OLEANNA by David Mamet

As its 16th production, Company D will produce David Mamet’s “Oleanna” from March 13th – March 24th , Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm in the Teachers Club Theatre, 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1. A matinee will also play at 2pm on Saturday March 24th.

Mamet’s controversial 90’s two-hander penetrates the potential corruption inherent in sexual harassment accusations. John, a university professor in his early forties is about to be granted tenure and has structured his family life around the award, putting down a deposit on a new house for his family. Carol, one of his students has failed a paper and when she finds she cannot understand the concepts of the course, files a complaint with the tenure committee, accusing John of sexual impropriety, sexism and an abuse of his position, both as an older male and as an educator.

Mamet wrote in his 2010 book “Theatre” that one of his favourite plays is John Patrick-Shanley’s “Doubt”, citing the play’s genius as its ability to leave the ball squarely in the court of the audience. “Oleanna” serves a similar function, presenting both sides of an epic power struggle and allowing the audience to decide who is right and who is wrong, presenting no definitive opinion on the part of the dramatist. Who is right? Is Carol simply a bitter student, not intelligent enough to be at university, using her age and gender to destroy the professor who has failed her? Or is Carol right? Has John let his position go to his head, exercising his freedom to deviate and invent, patronising his female students and indulging his power to pass or fail, to grant and deny.

Aside from being brilliantly written and structured, “Oleanna” is a perfect piece of writing for Company D at this stage. Its ethic of giving opportunities to new actors sees the introduction of Sinead O’Riordan, a recent graduate of “The Applied Art of Acting”, the most intensive and advanced fulltime, single-technique actor-training program available in Ireland. It also gives “Applied Art of Acting” and Company D director, David Scott a rare opportunity to test his most cutting edge techniques on the stage. A former teacher and student go head-to-head in the roles of teacher and student, with absolutely no punches pulled!

David Scott and Sinead O'Riordan. Photo by Roger Kenny