BLUEBARN Stages Mamet’s Classic ‘American Buffalo’

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October 2nd, 2014

Omaha, NE — The rare and valuable coexists with the petty and vulgar onstage at one local theatre.

[audio:https://kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/american-buffalo.mp3]
The cast of 'American Buffalo' (from left): Thomas Becker (Teach), Jonathan Purcell (Bobby), and Jerry Longe (Donny

The cast of ‘American Buffalo’ (from left): Thomas Becker (Teach), Jonathan Purcell (Bobby), and Jerry Longe (Donny)

Omaha’s BLUEBARN Theatre opens its 26th season with American Buffalo, a play by David Mamet. Directing this production is Susan Clement-Toberer, the BLUEBARN’s Artistic Director. She says the play’s setting is nondescript and the characters are as shady as their surroundings.

“The entire play takes place in a junk shop owned by Don,” Clement-Toberer said. “You have Don, Teach – a longtime cohort – and Bobby, the youngin of the threesome who is a street kid who takes refuge at the junk shop and looks at Don as a father figure.”

The plot begins when something small and seemingly plain turns out to be extraordinary.

“The catalyst of the play is a customer comes in, finds a Buffalo Nickel, and Don doesn’t really understand how much it’s worth and they end up bartering and he ends up selling the nickel for $90,” she said. “These people are low lifes, crooks, and he decides that he wants to go and steal the nickel back. That’s what happens through the play: they plan it, they plot it.”

Susan Clement-Toberer ties in the plot and themes with greed on many different scales, from petty theft to Wall Street fraud.

“One of the main themes is ‘How far will you go to get what you want? What boundaries will you cross to get what you want? What is the most important thing that’s driving your life?’”

Bringing the script to life is a small ensemble cast.

“I have fantastic actors, I have Jerry Longe who plays Donny, and I have Thomas Becker who plays Teach, and Jonathan Purcell who plays Bobby,” she said.

Susan Clement-Toberer points out that delivery is key, especially in terms of silence, space, and rhythm.

“Because you have non sequiturs. It’s very similar to [Samuel Beckett’s] Waiting for Godot,” she said. “It’s cyclical at times, sometimes it’s severely linear, sometimes you back up and say the same thing about a different subject but you use the same words.”

She says that the set is also important and the level of detail creates a strong sense of authenticity.

“It’s been an amazing process watching Amy Reiner, whose Production Manager and Props Genius create a junk shop on our stage here at the BLUEBARN. It really is a sight to behold.”

Speaking of the space, this is the last season the BLUEBARN will be in its current location on 11th street. Starting next season, productions will be staged in their new building at 10th and Pacific.

The BLUEBARN Theatre’s production of American Buffalo by David Mamet opens this Thursday and runs through Saturday, October 25. For tickets and more information, visit www.bluebarn.org.

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