Scope and Contents
||The papers of American playwright, writer, and film director David Mamet consist mainly
manuscripts and related production materials for most of his plays, films, and other
writings, primarily dating from 1969-2005. Included are journals; typescript and handwritten
manuscript drafts, revision pages, and notes; photographs, theater programs, posters,
schedules, contact lists, set designs, and similar play production material; expense
receipts, schedules, cast and crew lists, shot lists, storyboards, location photographs,
film stills, movie props, set newsletters, and other film production material; research
material; reviews and other clippings; scrapbooks; agreements; page proofs; dust jacket
designs; musical scores; artwork; correspondence; agreements; award certificates;
and weekly schedules; office and business files; and periodicals. The collection has
organized in six series: I. Works (1966-2007 and undated, 257 boxes, 8 oversize boxes,
oversize folders, 1 galley folder); II. Career-Related Papers (1969-2002, 7 boxes);
Office and Business Files (1964-2003 and undated, 58 boxes, 1 oversize box); IV. Personal
and Family Papers (1918-2000 and undated, 2 boxes); V. Works by Others (1931-2000
undated, 9 boxes); and VI. Serial Publications (1974-2005, 17 boxes, 3 oversize boxes).
While most of the material is in English, some translations and production materials
||The Works series has been subdivided into three subseries: A. Journals; B. Plays,
Screenplays, Teleplays, and Books; and C. Essays, Articles, Lectures, Lyrics, Poems,
Reviews, and Short Stories. The 184 journals, which are arranged chronologically,
1966 to 2005 and include Mamet’s handwritten drafts of works, diary entries, drawings,
ideas, and notes. Subseries B. comprises the majority of the collection and includes
typescript and handwritten drafts, notes and outlines; production and publicity material
his plays and films; and typesetting copies and proofs for his books. Nearly all of
work to date, from his 1969 college thesis, Camel, to his 2007 play November, is represented in some form, including American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Games, Oleanna, The Spanish Prisoner, Speed-the-Plow, The Verdict, and Wag the Dog. Subseries C. consists primarily of typescript drafts of
Mamet’s essays, articles, song lyrics, poetry, and other shorter works, dating from
||Series II. Career-Related Papers includes datebooks and weekly schedules; awards and
honors; photographs, including those of Mamet’s associates; scrapbooks containing
reviews and other clippings about Mamet and his work; materials relating to Mamet’s
career as an actor and his work as a teacher; and works written about Mamet.
||Series III. Office and Business Files is composed of four interrelated groups of files.
first group is composed of the files from David Mamet’s office. These files were primarily
maintained by Mamet’s various assistants. The bulk of the material dates from the
contains a broad array of subject matter, some of which is related to the materials
Works series, or contains materials similar to those found in the separate Personal
Family Papers series. The other three groups, the files of the Back Bay Theater Company
stage production company), Bay Kinescope (a film production company), and The School
(another film production company) are all related to Mamet productions and the production
||Among the varied items in Series IV. Personal and Family Papers are Mamet’s baby book;
original artwork by Shel Silverstein for birth announcements for Mamet’s children
Noah; clippings on a variety of topics; theater programs, catalogs, and other published
material; family photographs; and Mamet’s high school diploma.
||Most of the items in Series V. Works by Others are copies of scripts used by Mamet’s
wife, actress Lindsay Crouse. Also present are manuscripts of works by such writers
McKearney, Mamet’s sister, Lynn Mamet, John Sayles, and others.
||The final series, Serials Publications, contains full issues of periodicals that include
works by or about Mamet; these range in date from 1988 to 2000.
||Books, audio-visual materials, electronic records, and personal effects received with
Mamet’s papers have been transferred to other departments within the Ransom Center.
Separated Material description for further details.
||Series I. Works, 1966-2007, undated (257 boxes, 8 oversize boxes, 21
oversize folders, 1 galley folder)
||The Works series, at 257 boxes, is the largest series and is organized into three
subseries: A. Journals; B. Plays, Screenplays, Teleplays, and Books; and C. Essays,
Articles, Lectures, Lyrics, Poems, Reviews, and Short Stories. The journals are arranged
chronologically, while all works are arranged alphabetically by published title. An
works and titles provided at the end of this finding aid identifies all locations
particular work, with the exception of drafts in journals.
||Nearly all of Mamet’s works are represented in some form. Many were first written
as pages of dialogue in notebooks, called journals. Mamet began keeping these journals
in college as a way to record his daily reflections, notes, ideas, and writings. Some
were abandoned and exist only as pages of dialogue written longhand in a notebook.
the journals have numbered pages, and most entries are dated. The 184 journals, dating
1966 to 2005, make up Subseries A.
||Subsequent drafts of Mamet’s works were typed, and Mamet’s revision process is reflected
the numerous drafts that may be present for a single work in Subseries B. These include
typescripts containing handwritten revisions, new typescripts reflecting the changes
and photocopy "protection copies." Most drafts are dated, although the dates of the
handwritten revisions were then used as dates for the subsequent revised typescript
for Mamet by a typist, so that several drafts may share a date. Many works are also
represented by files containing notes, pages of dialogue, and revision pages, or "outtakes."
Outlines, notes, and handwritten charts showing plot progression are also common.
materials for Mamet’s plays include correspondence, schedules, contact sheets, set
theater programs, posters, photographs, and review clippings. Production materials
screenplays include research material, agreements, location information, cast and
lists, expense receipts, schedules, shot lists, storyboards, movie props, film stills,
set newsletters. Of particular interest are the set newsletters produced for the cast
crew on the set of films he directed; these contain jokes, cartoons by Mamet, and
humorous entries related to the filming. Mamet’s published works are represented by
"copyedited" manuscripts, page proofs, dust jacket proofs, and correspondence.
||The earliest work represented in the archive is Mamet’s Camel, a revue written in 1969 as Mamet’s thesis at Goddard College.
Called "The Camel
Document," the thesis includes commentary and background information. All of
Mamet’s best-known plays are represented in the archive, including but not limited
to American Buffalo, Boston Marriage, The Cryptogram, Edmond, Glengarry Glen Ross, Lakeboat, The Old Neighborhood, Oleanna, Sexual Perversity in Chicago,
Speed-the-Plow, The Water Engine, and The Woods. Of particular note are drafts for The Cryptogram, which grew out of an earlier work, Donny March. Numerous revisions over a fifteen-year span show the
significant changes made, including the evolution of the play’s initial focus on a
failed relationship to the impact their betrayals and separation have on their son.
father, a major character in the early drafts, is not present in the final version.
works, files containing Mamet’s notes about plots and characters reveal his dramatic
||Of special note are Mamet’s handwritten charts showing plot structures and outlines,
including the characters’ mythological journeys, for his screenplays Heist, Homicide, and House of Games. American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Oleanna are represented as both plays and screenplays. Among other
well-known screenplays by Mamet are Hannibal, Heist, Homicide, House of Games, The Postman Always Rings Twice,
The Spanish Prisoner, Spartan, State and Main, The Verdict, Wag the Dog, and The Winslow Boy. A copy of the 1978 Vintage Books edition of James
M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice contains Mamet’s
handwritten annotations. Other noteworthy items include the Formula book used as the
prop in the movie The Spanish Prisoner and, for films directed by
Mamet, the set newsletters described above. Television projects include episodes of
Hill St. Blues and The Unit; Lansky; A Life in the Theatre; Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants; Texan; Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya; and a film of Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe for a Beckett on Film project.
|| In addition to papers relating to Mamet’s well-known works are those for film and
television projects that were never produced. Among these are the screenplays Autobiography
of Malcolm X, The Contract (an adaptation of Thomas Kelly’s
Payback ), The Deerslayer (adaptation of the book by James
Fenimore Cooper), Dentists with Guns, Diary of a
Young London Physician (an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Dillinger,
Ordinary Daylight (adaptation of the book by Andrew Potok), Spain,
and Will B. Good (adaptation of the book Frame-Up: The Untold Story of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle by Andy
Edmonds); teleplays of Acme Affiliated, Extramarital Infidelity, A Waitress in Yellowstone or Always Tell the Truth; and proposed
television series titled Bradford, Chicago,
Hotel, Jimmy J, Mercer
Street, and We Will Take You There.
||Mamet’s published collections of essays, including Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie
Business; The Cabin; Jafsie and John Henry; Make-Believe Town; On Directing Film; Some Freaks; South of the Northeast Kingdom;
and True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor, are
represented by multiple drafts of essays, page proofs, and dust jackets. Drafts of
two collections of poetry, The Chinaman and Hero Pony, are present. Other books include Mamet’s novels, The Old Religion, The Village, and Wilson: A Consideration of the Sources, as well as Henrietta, The Owl, Passover, and Warm and Cold, all written for
children. Tested on Orphans: Cartoons by David Mamet is
represented by photocopy drawings of the cartoons included in the book.
||Also present, in Subseries C., are hundreds of diverse shorter works including essays,
articles, lectures, poems, reviews, song lyrics, and short stories. Individual titles
accessed via the works and titles index. Many of the essays were published in periodicals,
and subsequently in one of Mamet’s several essay collections. Often, first drafts
by Mamet, then sent along to his assistant to be retyped, sent to his agent (or publisher),
and filed. Some short stories and song lyrics were co-authored with friends or family
members, including Lindsay Crouse, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Shel Silverstein.
||While some correspondence is scattered throughout the Works series, most correspondence
located with Mamet’s office files in Series III. An index of correspondents at the
this finding aid contains locations for all correspondence in the collection, with
exception of Back Bay Theater Company files, Bay Kinescope files, and School Company
||In the following container list, photocopies of typescripts are noted as such only
they also contain Mamet’s handwriting. Clippings, faxes and manuscript pages with
tape or post-it notes have been photocopied for preservation purposes.
||Series II. Career-Related Papers (1969-2002, 7 boxes)
||Dating from 1969 to 2002, Mamet’s career-related papers include datebooks and weekly
schedules; awards and honors; photographs, including those of Mamet’s associates;
containing primarily reviews and other clippings about Mamet and his work; materials
relating to Mamet’s short career as an actor and his work as a teacher; and works
about Mamet. Within the photographs are early photographs of Mamet, Mamet at work
unidentified sets, Mamet with Shel Silverstein, a photograph of John Houseman, and
continuity photographs of Robert DeNiro. Thirteen scrapbooks date from 1974 to 1983
appear to have been compiled by Mamet’s mother, Lenore "Lee" Mamet Kleiman. Envelopes
letters, mostly from Mamet and Lindsay Crouse to his mother, that were with the scrapbooks
have been removed to family/personal correspondence files within the Office Files
||Materials relating to Mamet’s acting career include a program and photograph from
as Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and programs from
productions of Mister Robert and The Impossible Years. Of particular interest in the papers relating
to Mamet’s teaching career and lectures are lecture notes taken by a student attending
lectures at New York University and Mamet’s proposal for his "Practical Aesthetics" seminar. Works about Mamet include interviews
and other clippings; a transcript from his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show, a transcript from a 1986 interview with H. I.
Schvey, and theses and other works written about Mamet.
||Series III. Office and Business Files, 1964-2003, undated (58 boxes, 1
||Series III. is composed of four subseries: A. Office Files; B. Back Bay Theater Company
Files; C. Bay Kinescope Files; and D. School Company Files. The Office Files were
by Mamet’s assistants and include a mix of files concerning Mamet’s professional and
personal activities. There are correspondence files dealing with both the Back Bay
Company and Bay Kinescope; with various works and other projects; with Mamet’s agent;
with his financial and legal representation. Of note are Bernard Mamet’s files documenting
his early representation of his son. Personal and family correspondence can also be
here, along with personal photographs and wedding planning information for Mamet’s
to Rebecca Pidgeon. A small amount of material relating to his wives and daughters,
to his pets and livestock, are present. Also included are extensive files dealing
purchase, sale, maintenance, furnishing, and renovation of three of Mamet’s homes.
of various personal and professional matters handled by his assistants is present,
records of personal purchases and returns, research files, and travel plans and itineraries.
Correspondence in the office files is included in the Index of Correspondents at the
this finding aid.
||The Back Bay Theater Company Files provide a view into the workings of Mamet’s Boston-based
stage production company. Included are budgets, contracts, correspondence, financial
legal files, insurance information and policies, photographs, tax information, travel
arrangements, and other production-related materials primarily related to Hamlet (both the stage play and a film version) and Oleanna (several different stage productions). Also present is a
small amount of material related to other theatrical projects.
||The Bay Kinescope Files deal mainly with film production. Present here are budgets,
contracts, correspondence, financial records, insurance information and policies,
files, location photos, schedules, tax information, travel arrangements, and other
production-related materials. These primarily concern A Life in the Theatre, Oleanna, and Russian Poland, but also include material for other
film projects, including Ace in the Hole, American Buffalo, an unproduced BBC documentary, Bradford, Edmond, Homicide, and others.
||The files of The School Company are concerned entirely with the production of the
version of Oleanna. The files are dominated by financial
material such as extensive accounts payable, payroll, and petty cash receipt files
as cancelled checks. Also present are budgets, contracts, insurance information, script
revisions and other production-related material.
||Series IV. Personal and Family Papers (1918-2000, undated, 2
|| Items in Series IV. Family and Personal Papers include Mamet’s baby book; original
by Shel Silverstein for birth announcements of Mamet’s children Clara and Noah; clippings
and tearsheets on a variety of topics; theater programs, catalogs, and other published
material; family photographs; and Mamet’s diploma from the Francis W. Parker School.
Clippings include a piece on Harold Clurman from The Nation at the time of Clurman’s death in 1980, an essay by Steve
Martin on "The Nature of Matter and Its Antecedents" from
The New York Times Magazine, a review of "Miro, Miro, On the Mall," and a photocopy of the 1937 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry on "Direction and Acting" by Stanislavsky. Published materials include
brochures on the Coldstream Guards, a gun sales notice, a "Donald Sultan: Works on Paper" 1989 catalog, a 1923 Columbia Records
catalog, "An Introduction to Waldorf Education" by Rudolf
Steiner, and a pamphlet on the Liberace Museum. Among the theater programs are those
productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Brooklyn Academy of
Music, 1971), Boys’ Life (Lincoln Center Theater, 1988), Higbee of Harvard (Senior Class of P. J. H. S., 1918) and the 1980
National Playwrights Conference. Mamet’s graduation certificate from Francis W. Parker
School is housed with the fall 1996 issue of the school’s Parker Magazine.
||Series V. Works by Others (1931-2000, undated, 9 boxes)
||Most of the items in Series V. Works by Others were used by Mamet’s first wife, actress
Lindsay Crouse. Some of these, such as a typescript of Robert Benton’s Places in the Heart, contain annotations by Crouse and production
material. Also present are manuscripts by Grace McKearney, Lynn Mamet, Rosemarie Santini,
John Sayles, and others.
||Lynn Mamet, also known as Lynn Weisberg and Lynn Mamet Weisberg, is Mamet’s sister,
nicknamed Tunafish. Her works include a typescript for a novel version of her teleplay
Leslie’s Folly (titled "Home by Another Way") along with a television pilot titled "New South Hell" and a screenplay, "Union Dues". Her contribution to Mamet’s proposed "Hotel" television series is located with his works in Series I.
||Two typescripts of William H. Macy and Steven Schachter’s screenplay "Woodbury, Vt." are present, as is Macy’s annotated copy of Hamlet. All works by others are arranged alphabetically by author.
||Series VI. Serial Publications (1988-2000, 17 boxes, 3 oversize
||Serials Publications are issues of periodicals containing works by or about Mamet.
have been arranged alphabetically by serial title. The individual articles within
publications that are by or pertaining to Mamet have been included in the index of
titles located at the end of this finding aid. Among the periodicals to which Mamet
frequently contributed are Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, and