It would be tempting to say that the time has come for Oleanna, David Mamet’s supremely discomfiting play about power politics and academe that has been freshly revived by the director Lucy Bailey. But the sorrowful fact of the matter is that it’s hard to imagine a world in which this ironically named play (its title references a folk song popularised in the 1960s that posits a possible utopia) doesn’t chime with some sort of dystopian present. Read more
David Mamet’s Oleanna is in London in 2021. Oleanna is at the Arts Theatre from July 2021. Oleanna tickets are available on London Theatre now.
Oleanna is a play that’s set on an American campus. At first glance, Oleanna simply follows the seemingly normal relationship between a student and a professor. But both characters find themselves in trouble quickly, as the Oleanna story becomes a lesson in power and gender relationships within academia.
At the start of Oleanna, we meet Carol, a female student who asks her male professor, John for help. All is well between them, until Carol files a claim of sexual harassment and their worlds are changed forever. During Oleanna, audiences never see any examples of overt sexual harassment take place. However, the constant misogynistic commentary and belittling is enough to suggest John’s guilty behaviour in this two-hander play.
Oleanna explores how language and actions can be manipulated within conversations, and how it can be extrapolated in the wider world. Oleanna is a drama of pupil power and student revenge, but has been adapted for 2021 to consider recent implications of the #MeToo movement.
This production of Oleanna in London is a transfer from Theatre Royal Bath. Oleanna is at the Arts Theatre from 28 July - 23 October. Oleanna is directed by Lucy Bailey, who has directed Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall.
Oleanna was last in London in 2004, starring Julia Stiles and Aaron Eckhart. In a 2004 review for LondonTheatre.co.uk, Oleanna is an "exploration of how stereotypical gender roles and institutionalised authority can lead to false accusations of abuse by either a real ‘perpetrator’ or a distraught ‘victim’, could prove a fruitful commentary on modern day sociological norms."
Tickets to Oleanna are on sale now. Book Oleanna tickets on London Theatre today.
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