5Q :: Hey, Mamet, open mouth and insert soapAs far as expletives go, David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” is up there in the world of celebrated dramas. Tony Barrett talks about Rubber Chicken's production of it.
As far as expletives go, David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” is up there in the world of celebrated dramas. Well, perhaps its bleepity-bleep wordplay isn’t that shocking these days, but its run at The Venue is bound to catch a few people off guard. It is being produced by Rubber Chicken, after all.
Brian Matuszak’s theater company has been establishing itself as a family-friendly outfit thanks to a string of (relatively) clean productions — heck, even Brian’s young daughter was a featured player during the recent Chicken Hat weekend.
So, while we won’t know if “American Buffalo” is indicative of a new path for the relatively young theater company until much later, for the time being we have one of the play’s stars, St. Scholastica economics professor Tony Barrett, on hand to tell us about the here and now:
Budgeteer: For the uninitiated, what makes “American Buffalo” such an interesting play 35 years after its inception?
Barrett: It remains an excellent character study. The issue it raises — the choice between friendship and business/money — is timeless.
How would you describe your character, and what drew you to playing him?
I am Don, the owner of a junk store. I am a criminal and, I assume, my junk store is a conduit for stolen goods.
What makes him interesting to me is that he is the character who, out of friendship, is trying to help a younger former drug user.
However, I am helping him, at first, by bringing him into a robbery plot. Then, I sacrifice this friendship for a more hardcore business approach. The consequences of that decision drive the story.
What’s it like working for director Minden Anderson?
Minden has been great to work with. She is explicit in what she wants but still allows us to explore and develop the characters within those parameters.
A lot has been said about the strong language used in this play — what’s a good “appropriate for” age?
There is a great deal of crude “adult” language, a bit of violence and no sex. Some parents might be comfortable taking a mature 16-year-old, but others would not. It is certainly not for the very young.
Once this wraps, do you have any other projects on the horizon?
I have been toying with the idea of putting together a production of Arthur Miller’s last play, “Resurrection Blues.”
NEWS TO USE
Rubber Chicken Theater will stage David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” at 7 p.m. June 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19 at The Venue at Mohaupt Block, 2024 W. Superior St. Cost is $15. Call 213-2780.