David Mamet in Austin: A Story of Three Parts by Daniel N. White

by Daniel N. White
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
January 14, 2010

Part I

David Mamet is the University of Texas at Austin’s prize literary celebrity trophy case possession.  His papers are in the Harry Ransome Center, and he makes biannual or thereabouts visits to Austin and UT. UT’s president, William Powers, to his credit, periodically teaches a Freshman general studies course and uses Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner, book and movie, as a text.  Mamet’s big UT event this year was an on-stage conversation with UT’s president, with a Q&A session afterwards, held at the Student Union Theater, followed by a showing of The Spanish Prisoner.

The 350 seat theater was 100% full for this event.  About one third of the audience were UT students, but as is usually the case with serious literary/political events anywhere in Austin, the majority of the audience was silverhaired non-UT types, west Austin members of the socioeconomic upper strata and solid members of Austin’s dominant political class.  Probably a fairly high percentage of the regional over-50 intelligentsia was represented there.  As to where the 25-50 year old intelligentsia was, no telling–they never show up at anti war rallies and other political events, either.   Mamet was right entertaining on his end of the conversation–quick-witted, amusing, and quite open and unafraid of his opinionatedness.  Powers was fairly dull, and didn’t have anything to say original or interesting, like most professors I had at UT.

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