A Life in the Theatre

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A Life in the Theatre
Poster for the 2010 Broadway Revival
Written byDavid Mamet
CharactersRobert (stage veteran) John (young actor)
Date premiered1977
Place premieredTheatre De Lys
Original languageEnglish
Official site

A Life in the Theatre is a 1977 play by David Mamet.

It focuses on the relationship between two actors, the play's only characters. One, Robert, is a stage veteran while John is a young, promising actor; as the play goes on they are involved in a variety of productions, and gradually their relationship begins to change.

Production history[edit]

It was first produced in the US at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, in February 1977, with Mike Nussbaum and Joe Mantegna and directed by Gregory Mosher,[1] it was revived at the Goodman in March 2006, directed by Artistic Director Robert Falls.[2][3]

The play premiered Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (then the Theatre De Lys) in October 1977 through July 1978, with Ellis Rabb as Robert and Peter Evans as John and directed by Gerald Gutierrez,[4] it was again produced Off-Broadway at the Jewish Repertory Theatre in February 1992 through March 1992, with F. Murray Abraham as Robert and Anthony Fusco as John.[5]

It was the featured play at UCSC's Shakespeare Santa Cruz summer festival in 1986, with Trevor Baxter and Paul Whitworth.

Notable UK productions include a run at London's Apollo Theatre, from February 2 to April 30, 2005 with Patrick Stewart as Robert and Joshua Jackson playing John,[6] and an Edinburgh Fringe production in 2008 by Schadenfreude Productions, with David Cann as Robert and Jonathan Rhodes as John.

Another revival featuring Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight and directed by Neil Pepe began performances on Broadway in a limited engagement, opened officially on October 12, 2010 for a 15-week run, through January 2, 2011.[7] However, after mixed critical reviews and low box office returns, the show closed on November 28, 2010 after 24 previews and 56 regular performances.[8]

Opened for a three week run on January 31, 2019 at The Arctic Playhouse.


The play was first adapted into a television film in 1979, with Peter Evans and Ellis Rabb reprising their roles from the 1977 Off-Broadway production.[9][10]

The play was adapted into a another television movie in 1993;[11] the teleplay was written by David Mamet. It was directed by Gregory Mosher, and starred Matthew Broderick and Jack Lemmon.


  1. ^ "A Life in the Theatre" production note, history" Archived August 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, theatrewesternsprings.com, accessed February 22, 2009
  2. ^ "Images of production" goodmantheatre.org, accessed February 22, 2009 Archived November 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "'A Life in the Theatre' 2006" goodmantheatre.org, accessed October 25, 2015
  4. ^ Off-Broadway listing, 1977 production lortel.org, accessed February 22, 2009.
  5. ^ Off-Broadway Database listing, 1992 production lortel.org, accessed February 22, 2009
  6. ^ Loveridge, Lizzie. "Review:A Life In the Theatre", curtainup.com, February 3, 2005
  7. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth. "Mamet's 'A Life in the Theatre' Sets Broadway Opening and Closing Dates" Archived August 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, July 12, 2010
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. "David Mamet's 'A Life in the Theatre' Closes on Broadway Nov. 28" Playbill, November 28, 2010
  9. ^ O'Connor, John J. (October 3, 1979). "TV: Mamet's 'A Life in the Theater'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  10. ^ Leydon, Joe (September 16, 1993). "Review: 'A Life in the Theatre'". Variety. Retrieved August 15, 2017. At best, pic is a slight improvement over the play’s previous TV adaptation, an unfortunately literal-minded videotaping (produced in the late 1970s for PBS) that’s memorable only for recording the brilliant performances of Ellis Rabb and the late Peter Evans, stars of the original 1977 off-Broadway production.
  11. ^ "A Life in the Theatre (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 16, 2017.

External links[edit]