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Regional premiere of Mamet's 'Race' comes to Phoenix

Cast of "Race"
September 29, 2011

“Race,” the latest play from Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright David Mamet, makes its Southwest premiere Oct. 20-29 at Arizona State University’s West campus in a co-production with iTheatre Collaborative. The production then will be staged in downtown Phoenix at the Herberger Theater Center’s Kax Stage, Nov. 4-19.

Mamet’s play, which opened in December 2009 on Broadway and ran for just under 300 performances, tackles America’s most controversial topic in a provocative tale of sex, guilt and bold accusations. The story focuses on three attorneys, two black and one white, who grapple with evidence to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Mamet’s new play argues, everything in America – and this play throws sex, rape, the law, employment and relationships into its 90 minutes of stage wrangling – is still about race.”

“Race” contains adult language and is recommended for mature audiences.

“This high-voltage drama isn’t afraid to raise painful questions; it features provocative dialogue and steady suspense,” said Charles St. Clair, a faculty member in the New College Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies on ASU’s West campus, who is directing the production. “When Mamet turns the spotlight on what we think but can’t say, dangerous truths are revealed, and no punches are spared.”

St. Clair is an award-winning actor and director with numerous stage, film and video credits. He will direct a cast featuring Valley professionals Christopher Haines, Mike Traylor and Nicole Belit as the legal team and Walt Pedano as the accused.

Haines is artistic director for Phoenix’s iTheatre Collaborative, a tax exempt not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation which has worked with New College’s Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance program to stage productions including “TopDog/Underdog”, “Death and the Maiden”, “Floyd Collins” and “Indivisible.”

Even before its Broadway closing in August of 2010, Haines and St. Clair were attempting to acquire the rights for “Race.”

“We wanted it for last season,” Haines said. “We started in May, 2010 trying to get it.”

While attending the Tony Awards, St. Clair caught a performance on Broadway with the original cast (James Spader, David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington and Richard Thomas). He called Haines from New York that night, saying, “Get this play!” The play was too new and too hot, and Haines was unable to acquire the rights last season. “When I saw that the larger theater companies in the Valley weren’t doing ‘Race’ for the 2011/12 season, I leapt,” Haines said.

“Race” playwright David Mamet is a two-time Oscar nominee, director, essayist, novelist, and poet who has been a force in American theater since 1976. His works include “American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Speed-the-Plow” and “Oleanna.” Mamet has also won acclaim for numerous screenplays, including “The Verdict” and “Wag the Dog” (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay), as well as “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “The Untouchables.” He has written children's plays and books, numerous volumes of essays, and a book of poems and is the creator and writer of the television series The Unit. Mamet has taught acting at his alma mater, Goddard College, as well as at the University of Chicago, Yale School of Drama, and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where, with William H. Macy, he established the Atlantic Theater Company in 1985.

Performances of “Race” at ASU’s West campus will be staged Oct. 20, 21 and 22 and Oct. 27, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Second Stage West, lower level of the University Center Building at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road. Tickets are $10 general admission and $7 for students. For tickets and more information, call (602) 543-ARTS.

Performances at the Herberger’s Kax Stage are set for Nov. 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m., along with a matinee performance Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices for these shows are $16 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets and more information are available online at or by calling (602) 347-1071.