Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1982 play written by David Mamet. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts -- from lies and flattery to bribery, threats, intimidation, and burglary -- to sell undesirable real estate to unwilling prospective buyers. The play draws partly on Mamet's experiences of life in a Chicago real estate office, where he worked briefly in the late 1960s. The title of the play comes from the names of two of the real estate developments being peddled by the salesmen characters, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms.
Mamet had sent the play to Harold Pinter for comment, who admired it and, as an associate director to Peter Hall, recommended it for production. As a result the world premiere was at the National Theatre in London on September 21 1983, where Bill Bryden's production in the Cottesloe was acclaimed as a triumph of ensemble acting.
The play opened on Broadway on March 25 1984 and closed on February 17 1985. The production was directed by Gregory Mosher and starred Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Robert Prosky, Lane Smith, James Tolkan, Jack Wallace, and J.T. Walsh. The production was nominated for four Tony awards including Best Play, Best Director, and two Best Actor nominations for Robert Prosky and Joe Mantegna, who won the production's one Tony.
Scene 1: Shelley Levene has been in a major slump, and has not made a sale in some time. He is desperate for money, and knows he will lose his job soon if he cannot turn things around. He tries in every way imaginable to convince office Manager John Williamson to give him some of "the Glengarry leads" (names and phone numbers of promising potential clients for expensive properties the firm will be selling in the near future). Williamson adamantly refuses. Levene tries first to charm Williamson, then to threaten him, and finally to bribe him. Williamson is willing to sell some of the prime leads, but demands cash in advance. Levene cannot come up with the cash and must leave without any good leads to work with.
Scene 2: Dave Moss and George Aaronow are complaining about Mitch and Murray, the big bosses. They hate the pressure management has put on them to succeed. Moss tells Aaronow that they need to strike back at Mitch and Murray by stealing all the Glengarry leads and selling them to another real estate agency. Moss's plan would require the hapless Aaronow to break into the office, stage a burglary, and steal all the prime leads. Aaronow wants no part of the plan, but Moss intimidates him, saying that Aaronow is already an accomplice, legally, simply because he listened to the idea.
Scene 3: Ricky Roma delivers a long, disjointed but compelling monologue to a meek, middle-aged man named James Lingk. Roma does not bring up the real estate he wants to sell to Lingk until the very end. Instead, Roma preys upon Lingk's insecurities, and his sense that he has never done anything adventurous with his life. "When you die, you'll regret the things you didn't do," Roma tells Lingk, who finds Ricky spellbinding. Lingk sees in Ricky Roma all the virtues he lacks: virility, confidence, a sense of adventure. By the time Roma brings out sales brochures, Lingk is ready to do almost anything to ingratiate himself with Roma.
Someone has broken into the office and stolen everything that wasn't bolted down, including the Glengarry leads. Williamson has called in a police detective, who interrogates each salesman behind closed doors, in Williamson's office. George Aaronow is extremely nervous, and guilty-looking.
Shelley Levene bursts into the office, looking deliriously happy, because he has finally sold a large plot of land to a couple named Nyborg. In his joy, he hardly seems to notice that the office is in shambles.
A nervous James Lingk enters the office, looking for Ricky Roma. Lingk's wife has ordered him to cancel the sales contract he signed with Roma, and under Illinois law, he has the right to terminate that contract within 72 hours. Lingk asks for his check to be refunded. Roma tries to stall him, by assuring him the contract has not been turned in and the check has not yet been cashed. At this point, John Williamson (who has completely misread the situation) steps in to reassure Lingk that the contract has been sent through and the check has been deposited. Horrified, Lingk leaves to seek redress from the state Attorney General's office.
Ricky Roma is furious at Williamson, who has blown a big sale and commission for him. He berates and humiliates Williamson, calling him a "fairy" and a "cunt" and asking him "who told you you could work with men?" When Roma is finished, he has to leave to be interviewed by the police detective. Roma tells Williamson he is oblivious to the way the sales business works and shouldn't be there. Shelley Levene picks up where Roma left off, and begins insulting Williamson, telling him what a stupid mistake it was to lie about turning in the contract and depositing the check.
Williamson realizes then that Shelley Levene must have been the thief — only the real thief could have known that he was lying, because only the real thief could have known that the contract and the check were sitting on Williamson's desk. Williamson accuses Levene, and threatens to tell his suspicions to the police detective. Levene folds, and admits pathetically that he and Dave Moss were the thieves. Once again, he tries to bribe Williamson to forget about the crime. He offers to give Williamson his commission from the Nyborg sale. Williamson laughs at this and reveals to Levene that the Nyborgs are crazy old folks who have no money and just enjoy talking to salesmen. Williamson has been feeding Levene worthless leads like the Nyborgs for months, because he just does not like Shelley.
When Roma comes back from his interrogation, Williamson goes to tell the detective that Moss and Levene are the thieves. Roma, who has no idea what just went on between Williamson and Levene, proposes to Levene that they should form their own partnership. Shelley smiles sadly, and agrees, knowing that he is going to be arrested any moment. The detective comes out and calls Levene's name. Levene meekly walks away with the detective. And Ricky heads off to the restaurant.
The controversial dialog included in the movie version about a potential lead from the Patels, a family from South Asia.
Cast and characters:
Glengarry Glen Ross premiered in the United States at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago in a Chicago Theatre Groups, Inc. production on February 6, 1984. The play opened on Broadway on March 25, 1984 at the John Golden Theatre, in a production directed by Gregory Mosher. The original American cast is below, with Lane Smith replacing William L. Petersen on Broadway.
Cast and characters:
Cast and characters:
The revival received numerous Tony Award nominations, including Best Featured Actor nominations for Alda, Clapp, and Schreiber, with Schreiber taking home the prize. The production also won a Tony for Best Revival of a Play.
On September 27, 2007, the play was revived at the Apollo Theatre, London, starring Jonathan Pryce as Shelley, alongside Aidan Gillen (Roma), Paul Freeman (George), Matthew Marsh (Dave) and Peter McDonald (Williamson). The production was directed by James Macdonald.
The 1992 a film adaptation directed by James Foley was released using an expanded script featuring a role specifically written for Alec Baldwin.