“There is business, and there is friendship…”
-Don Dubrow, American Buffalo
Damian Lewis is making a wonderful comeback to stage in the West End revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo this spring. He is headlining the play as Walter Cole “Teach” along with the great John Goodman as Don Dubrow, and Tom Sturridge as Bobby. Daniel Evans, whom Damian Lewis trained together with at Guildhall School of Music and Drama is directing the play.
Damian tells Guardian about how the stars aligned for American Buffalo: “I’ve tried about three or four times in the last couple of years and things have fallen apart. With theatre, you have to plan almost a year in advance. But we got lucky – a theatre was available.”
According to New York Times in a 1983 Broadway production review: “‘American Buffalo” is one of the best American plays of the last decade. The story of three small-time Chicago hustlers who try and fail to steal a cache of rare coins, it has little plot and few words (or sentences) of more than one syllable. But with such terse means, Mr. Mamet created a combustible and sympathetic portrait of inarticulate American underclass dreamers – men whose ambitions to make big money through ”free enterprise” are as doomed as the buffaloes on the nickels they covet.”
You can see Damian talk about American Buffalo, David Mamet, director Daniel Evans and his co-stars John Goodman and Tom Sturridge in the video below and also see the sort of “look” he will have as “Teach” in the play.
One thing he says about American Buffalo, in my opinion, captures the real essence of Mamet’s play: “These guys desperately long for a shot at their slice of the American dream.”
Damian also tells Guardian that his character in the play, the blue-collar, and quite vulgar “Teach” is a little bit too far away from his life experience: “It’s a big challenge, of course, but that is what is attractive about it. My experience in life is not that of these guys in the play. When I play Americans, I tend to play lower American types for whatever reason.”
Hmmm…. Maybe because you make them so compelling and believable?
Just sayin’ 🙂
Damian is also in great company with actors who took on the role of “Teach” in earlier productions: Robert Duvall in 1977 (Broadway), Al Pacino in 1981 and 1983 (Broadway), and Dustin Hoffman in 1996 movie version. The movie is available on iTunes in case you want to see it.
We will certainly talk a lot about the characters and the plot in much detail in the coming weeks, but, for today, let’s start with the Buffalo in American Buffalo. Well, it is all about a buffalo (aka American bison) on the reverse side of a coin, in fact a nickel, a five-cent coin, al,so known as the buffalo nickel, designed by a prominent American sculptor James Earle Fraser and issued for the first time in 1913 and minted until 1938.
The play opens at a junk shop. The owner Don Dubrow sells a “buffalo nickel” to a customer for 90 bucks and soon after suspects that the nickel is actually worth much more than that…
American Buffalo will be staged at Wyndham’s Theatre, an old, in fact it opened in 1899, a beautiful and one of the most intimate theater spaces in London.
The previews start on April 16, the play opens on April 27, and it is a strictly limited run that has to close on June 27. Tickets are selling very fast that if you plan to go see American Buffalo, make sure you book your tickets as soon as possible. And, for BEST prices, it is always a better idea to book tickets online at the theatre’s website rather than through other agencies.
Damian Lewis says in an interview with the Buzzfeed: “Everyone’s doing their best, but things don’t always work out. It’s the same in everything you do. I’m going to do a play in the West End (American Buffalo) and it’s David Mamet, so it’s only ours to fuck up. I mean, we won’t try to — but we might!”
Oh, I really don’t think so. I have a very strong feeling that the lucky ones among us that will be able to go see Damian Lewis on stage are in for a real treat.
Best of Luck!