In the middle of interviewing director David Nash, his cell phone rings. “It says ‘Potential fraud.’” He mutters, reading the call display. “That’s fitting.”
Nash is learning a thing or two about fraud through his work directing the upcoming production of Glengarry Glen Ross, being performed at The Pearl Company in December. Written by David Mamet in 1980, the production tells the story of the various employees of a real estate company who are all chasing success as they try everything can to sell two competing properties; Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. The top sellers will keep their jobs, while the others will face unemployment. This motivation leads to intriguing dialogue, confrontations as well as questionable behaviour from the characters.
“Whether it was the time of Henry V, the 1980s or now, I don’t think we have ever had a time in history when there haven’t been people who have exhibited a lack of conscience. And these people [in Glengarry Glen Ross] don’t have a conscience about what they’re doing.”
It’s exactly this type of character and their behaviour that playwright Mamet is so well known for. The playwright has made a signature of capturing the day-to-day spoken language of Americans as well as exploring the relationship that exists between behaviour and language. Glengarry Glen Ross is arguably the writer’s most popular play, receiving numerous revivals (including a film adaptation) and awards since its premiere in 1983.
Despite the writer’s popularity and the awareness around the performance, Nash acknowledges that the dramatic comedy is not for everyone. “It’s pretty gritty. And there’s a lot of bad language in it.” He says, laughing. “But it’s pretty entertaining.”
In order to find a cast who could relate to an office environment of working with consistent colleagues, producer Nortesur Productions looked to many of its past players. The cast of Glengarry Glen Ross contains many familiar faces from its recent productions who collectively, hold a number of impressive credits. This includes Burlington’s Mischa Aravena (who is also Executive Producing the work), Mark Ellis (TV’s Flashpoint), Fringe favourites Rod McTaggart (Assistant Producer) and Joel Pettigrew, Chris Reid, Kayla Gambrill, Walter Ried and John Patrick. Part of the strength of this particular production, according to Nash, is in the talent casted in each role. However, this also brings an additional challenge- and reward- to his own work as a director.
“It’s difficult to know when not to direct and let the actors do their own thing with their own part. They’re very good actors and very experienced. . .so when you are directing people like that, you have to let them bring their own experience to their part and make it their own. My job is to bring it all together and make it fit together seamlessly.”
Being part of the rehearsal process and watching the actors evolve their roles is clearly a point of pride for Nash, who feels that the collective talent onstage, paired with the popular script is a winning combination. And while the performance itself is popular among theatre companies, Nash admits he hasn’t seen the film version, so he isn’t influenced by the choices of other artists. Instead, he promises a few surprises in the onstage version at The Pearl Company that will keep the performance fresh and new for those who consider Glengarry Glen Ross an old favourite or are looking to make it a new classic.
Who: Nortesur Productions
What: Glengarry Glen Ross
Length: Approximately 90 minutes + intermission
Where: The Pearl Company (16 Steven Street)
When: December 5 & 6 at 8pm; December 7 at 2pm and 8pm
For more information: www.thepearlcompany.ca
Photo provided courtesy of Nortesur Productions.