Sheldon Levene says the Kaddish

Photo, production of Glengarry Glen Ross dir. by Christina deCoursey, Fringe Theater, Hong Kong, March 2011

The end of Glengarry was an emotional wringer. Williamson says “fuck you”, I collapse, walk to the front of the stage, and tear up the check, break down, say “praised lauded exalted magnified” to myself and get it together enough to respond to Roma and give the cop a final, Promethean glare.

The actress who played the cop still hasn’t forgiven me That Look since I was supposed to be that Pheminist Phigure of Phun, the “broken man”, the silenced, the laid-off, the discarded. The failed Stalin who we can blame for all of our troubles when “we are sick in fortune”, as the Bastard says in Lear.

Nyah ha ha. I said this is the Merchant of Venice, not the Jew of Malta, and that I would be damned if Levene didn’t know the shot.

Photo, production of Glengarry Glen Ross dir. by Christina deCoursey, Fringe Theater, Hong Kong, March 2011

My take on this matter was that theater people and academics may think at some level that a mere salesman would not understand his plight as does Lear.

But I went to Roosevelt University with poor, tough, smart Jews who became commodity brokers and salesmen and I’d say that tragic heroes of the lower middle class like Sheldon Levene and Willie Loman somehow know without being able to put it into words. Which is precisely where your real intellectual finds himself at the end of the day:

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen

יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא
בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ


One Response to “Sheldon Levene says the Kaddish”

  1. spinoza1111 Says:

    In this connection, in fact, Roger Ebert, in his surprisingly good book about the 100 greatest movies of all time, identifies Leaving Las Vegas as a great movie because the screenwriter, dying of alcoholism, knows the shot all the way down, and Elizabeth Shue’s whore knows the shot too.

    Leaving Las Vegas is all about what “freedom” might really mean. People who do stop drinking one day at a time successfully in fact say the same thing as Cage’s alcoholic: they are “powerless”. But this admission constitutes their freedom to choose, or not.

    I think I might have been subconsciously processing the way Cage dies in LLV, sayng “you’re an angel” and finally getting around to actually making love to the poor girl. In GGGR, in fact, Toni Roma as played by Nicole Garbellini-West was a sort of angel even though Mamet has Roma befriend Levene on the face of it merely to get his accounts. But that makes sense: angels do not have free will when they benefit us.

    I tried to sell the cop actress on her pulling me offstage whilst Nicole pulls the other way in an echo of a scene in a mystery play in which angels and demons fight over Everyman’s soul, but the coppette, like half the cast, was resistant towards my suggestions as being off the wall.

    The actual director more welcoming. I did get to do my “sales dance” (“Everybody who wants to succeed has to believe in themselves”) downstage rather than a chorus line with Dave Moss’ kvetching. I seriously wanted to tick Moss off more and more to help him build to his “farewell to the troops” in which he storms out to Roma’s teasing. Moss hates Levene’s traditional sales pitches, and with the talented Daniel Jade-Levia as Moss, I was able to choreograph the words to movement which, each performance, ended in my patronizingly placing a hand on his shoulder and saying “May I call you Harriet”.

    Daniel’s instruction in how to memorize lines was, by the way, invaluable. His parting advice at the wrap party was that I listen to other people’s suggestions more. I don’t know where he gets that, for I’ve spent most of my life doing precisely that and it hasn’t worked out. In GGGR I let my own daemon do the driving and it worked.

    Mamet could have written Leaving Las Vegas but would have left out the fact that everyone loves Cage’s character. His boss says “we really liked having you around” when he fires him. This prepares us to believe that Elizabeth Shue will fall for him, although it is in general unwise to destroy yourself in hopes that a stunning blonde will think that’s cute.

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