There’s nothing like the first time. Everyone remembers it, don’t they? I remember my first time as if it were yesterday. I had never been to the theater before. I’d seen local productions of The King and I and Annie Get Your Gun, but I had never seen a play. As it so happened, in the summer of 1988 a pop star was having a first time of her own. That summer Madonna was appearing in her first and, I believe, only play: Speed-the-Plow. I can’t say I was a fan of hers but to be fair, she was a great influence on the decade that saw me leap into adulthood. In short, I went to see the play because she was in it. What happened that afternoon changed the course of my life.
Two other actors were on that stage with her. One was Joe Mantegna and the second was the late Ron Silver. The curtain went up (was there a curtain?) and it was as if suddenly I’d been deaf up to that moment and didn’t know it. In less than two hours I learned to hear. I learned what one could do with words and sentences. These two actors were in a boxing match and they were using words to knock each other around the stage. And the pauses and the beats…silence was just another note for them to play. Madonna was at the center of the play but it was these two men who were really singing that afternoon. And who wrote the music? Who was responsible for this awakening? David Mamet pulled me into the theater — dragged me from my seat back to the typewriter ( a Brother electric typewriter). I’ve been there ever since.