The Sunday Giveaway: Two Tickets to David Mamet’s The Anarchist

David Mamet’s theatrical brand is so strong these days, with not one, but two of his titles appearing on Broadway in the last 4 of 9 seasons, sometimes I feel like he doesn’t even have to name his plays in order to sell them.

The phrase, “New David Mamet play!” is the only thing a lot of theatregoers need to hear to purchase a ticket. (Whatta ya say, David, want to call your next play Untitled and see what happens?)

He did title The Anarchist, however, which is one of the two star-studded plays he’s got on the boards this season (along with the Pacino-laden Glengarry Glen Ross) and what a title it is.

Starring Debra Winger and Patti Lupone, The Anarchist (which we were honored to have rehearse at our studios), actually is about . . . “one women who is put away for life, and another who is committed to making her stay put.”

I mean, is that a Mamet blurb, or what?

So who wants to see it? Because I’ve got two tickets with a reader’s name on it.

Here’s how to win:

I’m predicting a huge turnout of this giveaway, and I’m also predicting a pretty big advance for The Anarchist, based on the Mamet brand.

What other playwrights have “star power” these days?  Do any?  Can a playwright sell tickets just on their own? If so, name that playwright!

Comment your answer below and you’ll be entered to win two tickets to The Anarchist on Broadway!


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Allison Raven says:

    Terrence McNally

  • Jeff Walsh says:

    Nora Ephron and Theresa Rebeck?

  • Linda says:

    Does it have to be a playwright that is still alive? Or does Shakespeare count? I don’t know if there are many playwrights around now that can sell tickets on their name alone unless there are stars in the play. Maybe Tony Kushner.

  • Emma B says:

    I don’t think there are any contemporary playwrights who can sell the way Mamet can without any outside factors (title, stars, press, etc). Some of the classics can; for me, personally I’ll see any Tennessee Williams show you put out there.

  • Andrew says:

    William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a name with international recognition. Whether you are performing one of his plays on Broadway, in Peoria, or in a community theatre stage in Australia (or Japan or Russia or India or Mexico), if you say “we are doing a Shakespeare play” people will have an idea of what to expect.

    I dare say that no other playwright has the power of a name than William Shakespeare.

    • Mike Lipinski says:

      Has anyone read Mamet’s “Theater?” It just about destroys the “maiming” (my word) of Shakespearean plays by changing settings and time periods. In a recent production of 12th Night (I believe), one of its “modernized” features was a pizza delivery in the middle of the play.

      No comment.

  • Sarah P. says:

    I agree that Mamet’s pretty much the only contemporary playwright who can sell tickets by name and reputation alone, although there are many up and comers (like Theresa Rebeck)…but as far as classic ones, I second the mention of Tennessee Williams, and I’d add Eugene O’Neill, Chekhov, Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, Henrick Ibsen, etc. (And yes, Shakespeare is an obvious given.) Tom Stoppard perhaps also, as a contemporary,
    and Tony Kushner and Terrence McNally also, but none of those have quite the name cachet I think Mamet does.

  • Evelyn says:

    Christopher Durang

  • Emily says:

    My first thought was Sondheim, even though he’s a musical guy. And yes, he’s had a bunch of flops, but like Shakespeare, people know Sondheim, so even if they end up not liking his work, they’ll go to see it!

  • Sue says:

    Tom Stoppard. “The Real Thing” remains one of if not THE best play I’ve seen on Broadway.

  • alex De Witt says:

    Tracy Letts

  • Noah says:

    Tom Stoppard

  • Aaron Deitsch says:

    I think any play that Aaron Sorkin writes will draw in an audience. He is known for his masterful writing both onstage as well as on film. I’d see absolutely ANYTHING he writes!

  • Emily says:

    Gore Vidal!

  • Brian says:

    I would say Tracy Letts has some pull to sell tickets on his own name.

  • John says:

    Aaron Sorkin

  • Melissa says:

    Simon Stephens

  • Taz Hussein says:

    Tony Kushner. If Angels in America wasn’t enough, we now have his screenplay for Lincoln!

  • Noah P says:

    Not quite as much as Mamet but I’d say Tony Kushner does have quite a bit of drawing power.

  • John P. says:

    Woody Allen.

  • Terrence Cranert says:

    Living playwrights: August Wilson; from the dead poet’s society: Tennessee Williams

  • Claire says:

    I don’t think there’s another contemporary playwright who has the same “star power” as Mamet, but the contemporary playwright whom I personally revere is Martin McDonagh. I’ll see anything he writes.

  • tamsin davies says:

    Noel Coward or oscar wilde

  • Rosie says:

    David Rabe

  • Nancy C. says:

    Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone

  • SarahB says:

    Definitely Albee…although there haven’t been too many new ones in most recent years, I think everybody would turn out and how if another was produced on Broadway – personally I’d love to see a new production of THREE TALL WOMEN. I also think both Tony Kushner and August Wilson are playwrights who bring out the crowds.

  • Gaspar Marino says:

    Edward Albee

  • Randi says:

    None today but definitely Tennessee Williams!

  • Jessica Baker says:

    I’ve got to throw my hat in the Tony Kushner ring as well.

  • EllenFD says:

    Woody Allen–case in point, the relatively poorly received RELATIVELY SPEAKING. It had a huge advance, I believe, which is what allowed it to complete its run. That advance was pretty much solely on Allen’s name. Once upon a time the go-to name was Neil Simon. I was shocked when the revival of BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS closed so rapidly, especially as it was so well done.

  • Rebecca L. says:

    I’d say Tony Kushner; though he hasn’t had a new play on Broadway in a bit, he has major turn-out power. PLUS he’s entering the film leagues with his success on Lincoln!

  • Liz Wollman says:

    Jesse Eisenberg.

  • Nothing strikes curiosity (and sometimes fear) in my heart like Sartre. As a fundamental figure in the development of existentialism, he is well known and his works are sought after.

  • Samantha Cohen says:

    Neil Labute

  • Ed from CT says:

    Tom Stoppard
    Terrence McNally
    Edward Albee

  • Matt Mezzacappa says:

    Sarah Ruhl

  • alex De Witt says:

    Some day, Alex De Witt…there are very few women playwrights on this list!

  • Nancy brown says:

    I’d see anything by Tony Kushner, Harvey Fierstein, or Wendy Wasserstein!

  • Josh says:

    Without a doubt Trey Parker and Matt Stone

  • Mitch says:

    Edward Albee

  • Diane says:

    Well I always go with the first name that pops into my head, so that would be Shakespeare. But since reading your email & coming on to the website to post my answer, I can see just how many answers there are to this question besides the tried & true Shakespeare. But he was the one that probably got all these playwrights interested in putting pen to paper, so I’ll stick with Shakespeare.

  • Candace says:

    Tony Kushner, definitely!

  • Lester says:

    Alas, while some of us will see a playwright. I see any Kushner, Albee, Sondheim, McNally, etc… That’s me. But Mamet’s star power is not what we may think. Just a quick search and I noticed that November ran only 7 weeks and never grossed more than 43% of potential. Speed the Plow hovered around 50% of potential for most weeks. Oleanna ran 10 weeks all of them grossing under 38% with one going as low as 18% This is why we keep seeing movie and tv stars in these playwright’s hits. What seems to fill seats is seeing a celebrity star in a name playwright’s work.

  • Toby Kaufman says:

    LaBute or Sondheim

  • Lorie says:

    Theresa Rebeck, Terrence McNally and Tom Stoppard (my idea of Englishness). Love them all!

  • Susan says:

    I think most works by Eugene O’Neill belong on the list !

  • Sarah says:

    I would say Neil Labute or Adam Rapp out of those alive, and Shakespeare by far of the one’s that have passed.

  • Marilyn says:

    Mamet, Lupone, Winger – What more do you need?

  • apc says:

    neil labute.

  • Mel Brooks,and maybe Charles Busch. Of the already mentioned, Tony Kushner, Edward Albee, and yes, Stone and Parker with or without Lopez, but Lopez can’t do it without the South Park boys.

  • Patrick says:

    I think its hard to say writers have as much sway on audiences as a star actor or director might. I think Mel Brooks is the closer you get to a known writer for younger theatre-goers. I ylthink the days of a playwright drawing like Williams or O’Neill did may be gone. If you want to count musicians, nobody draws better or more often than Sondheim!

  • Jean Ann Garrish says:

    Neil Simon. Or if Woody Allen decided to write for the stage again, it would sell.

  • Jen Sandler says:

    William Shakespeare, he truly is timeless and his work continues to get produced in new and exciting ways!

  • Mark Corallo says:

    With The Book of Mormon doing as well as it is, I would have to say Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

  • Mickey Nelson says:

    Theresa Rebeck and Niel LaBute

  • Tracy Letts, Stephen Sondheim, Kushner… then again it depends what you mean by Star Power. Do any of these playwrights have Ricky Martin star power? Unfortunately not… Carrie Underwood in Chicago would probably sell more tickets than these guys combined.

  • Kerry Zukus says:

    Assuming you are referring to a living playwright capable of creating new works that can be sold simply on the strength of his or her reputation, there is only one. Love him or hate him, it’s Neil Simon.

  • Clare says:

    Most of the members of the Broadway community I know perk up at the thought of a new Neil Labute play or anything by Sondheim, however, I would have to say that the biggest star power “writer” in the past few years has to be Mike Tyson (even though the writing credit went to his wife)…because, lets face it–what a circus that play was, and what a draw did it get JUST based on the drama that he created and wrote in his own life.

  • Morgan M says:

    Tony Kushner, David Lindsay Abaire, Edward Albee and in time Amy Herzog and Martin McDonagh for sure

  • Michael M. says:

    It’s more often these days that “star” playwrights draw producers, who then use “star” actors to draw audiences. Would “The Anarchist” be mounted on Broadway on Mamet’s name alone? Let’s ask Debra Winger and Patti LuPone!

  • Solange De Santis says:

    Judging from all the revivals lately – Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.

  • Joe G says:

    Sam Shepard






  • Bryan Austermann says:

    Any Playwright who’s name precedes the title of their play:


    Gore Vidal’s The Best Man

    I know that’s a bad example because it was a super star studded cast, but still, his name HAS to have some sort of impact.

    Another example:

    Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    That one I think holds up a bit better. The actors are a draw for some but not for the touristy theatergoer.

  • Brian says:

    Richard Greenberg! Take Me Out was a hit, 3 Days of Rain, The Purple Hour! I would love to see a Broadway season with a new Greenberg and a revival of Eastern Standard. Neil Patrick Harris as Drew would sell tickets.

  • Cindy L. says:

    David Henry Hwang

  • Katie O'Brien says:

    I don’t know about him having power right this second in time– but God, if I heard that a Christopher Durang play was in town, I’d drop everything to go see it. I don’t even care what play, all of his work is wonderful. He’d definitely be one of those “in-power” playwrights!

  • Hannah says:

    I think this question is a little misleading. It all depends on how close one is to the theater scene. I do think someone like Tracy Letts can pull theater people, but he’s not going to draw the tourist crowd. But honestly, neither is Shakespeare. So what draws a theater crowd could really be any name of a semi-well known playwright (Theresa Rebeck, Neil Lebute, Tony Kushner, etc.). That’s not going to draw the tourists. The tourists come for actors and titles they recognize. Or maybe for reviews. And while I think the Anarchist will sell, I don’t think Mamet is the whole deal.

  • Leif O. says:

    I think a lot of people, myself included, would pay Broadway money to see an age-inappropriate, high school production of a Tracy Letts or Martin McDonagh play (if that were the only way to see their new work).

  • Bill says:

    Althought Mamet is like plays like Sondheim is to musicals there are a few playwrights that may help to sell tickets based on their previous work. I think that Yasmina Reza, Tom Stoppard and even Neil Simon would peak your interest in a new work. Of course Willams and O’Neill will usually bring in an audience.

  • Amanda M. says:

    It seems to me that Tennessee Williams is a playwright who makes a big box office. His plays are revived, and often, and draw in big actors for the legendary parts. People love it!

  • Sabrina L says:

    Tom Stoppard comes to mind as a surefire hit!

  • Mike says:

    Ignoring Shakespeare and sticking with playwrights born in the 20th Century, Stoppard comes to mind quickly. as does Reza. But one other European comes to mind who I haven’t seen mentioned from any prior commentator as of this writing: Peter Schaffer. Not an obvious choice perhaps, and probably aided more than most playwrights mentioned here in terms of actors with drawing power. But a number of hits that enjoyed successful revivals- Amadeus, Equus and White Liars/ Black Comedy (the low performances with that production was a combo of a limited run with Roundabout, shortened by a major injury to lead Peter MacNicol. Plus a big hit with Lettice and Lovage, aided by lead Maggie Smith. In terms of dead playwrights, try Arthur Miller; I don’t believe any revivals of his work has flopped since his death.

  • Wayne Paul says:

    Since the established names have been sung, put me down for the meteoric (so it seems)rise of Katori Hall.

  • Tim R. says:

    I’d say anything by Kushner or Albee is bound to sell. (How about a Kushner/Albee pairing?… that would sure be interesting!)

  • Reginald says:

    Wilson and Albee bring the Tonys, but Tennessee brings the box office heat and attracts the star wattage to boot.

  • Beau says:

    After ‘Venus in Fur,’ David Ives.

  • Ging says:

    Playwrights like Shakespeare, August Wilson and Eugene O’Neill come to mind but they’re deceased. Then there’s Edward Albee, Neil Simon and Tom Stoppard but they have stopped writing. Finally, Tracy Letts and Tony Kushner have limited resumes. So, a living writer with ” star power” capable of selling tickets– the aforementioned David Mamet.

  • Mary says:

    Theresa Rebeck is well on her way to achieving the same status as David Mamet, given her years in the industry. I would also include Tracy Letts, Terrence McNally, Edward Albee, Alan Ayckbourn & Tom Stoppard as playwrights that I will run to see.
    Dead playwrights would be Eugene O’Neill & Arthur Miller.

  • Lonnie Cooper says:

    Neil Simon used to draw everyone, not just theater folk. I’m not sure there really is someone who appeals outside of the theater community. Maybe Tony Kushner after the success of “Lincoln”?

  • Miranda says:

    Stephen Sondheim

  • KENI FINE says:

    As I said above in comment about women writers, WHOOPI GOLDBERG. Get writing, Whoopi!

    And a Jane Wagner & Lily Tomlin play would sell, too.

  • Ronaldtina Kus says:

    There is no doubt Neil LaBute is my choice. Starting with In the Company of Men where is shows how a deaf woman is taken advantage of by two men he has dared to look at social issues. He was the first to write a play post 9/11 The Mercy Seat. Reasons to be Pretty should have won a Tony and showed me it is important to express your feelings properly to the woman you love. He looks at our society in its prejudice against heavier people in Fat Pig.

  • Alex says:

    Beyonce, definitely.

  • Neil Labute, Tony Kushner, Christopher Durang

  • Theresa Rebeck seems to have sold her soul to someone, from what I can tell. Every time I turn around, she’s back with something else!

  • Preston says:

    I personally don’t think any playwrights have the selling power these days that they used to. If writing a play was enough, there wouldn’t be the push for celebrity stars that there currently is on broadway. Aside from the educated theater community, the general public will not buy tickets to a show written by someone they may have only heard of in passing…even Arthur Miller needed Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Mamet to Al Pacino. It’s not a good or bad thing, it just is.

  • Sara Jayne says:

    Tony Kushner is the closest one, but nobody holds a candle to Mamet’s fame and draw.

  • Art Carey says:

    I think the answer, unfortunately, is NONE. The reason that David Mamet plays have been doing well — or OK — has much more to do with this descriptor:

    ” star-studded”

  • Billy-Christopher Maupin says:

    David Lindsay-Abaire seems to be heading that way! (eeee fingers crossed for some Patti!!!!)

  • Todd Schmidt says:

    Horton Foote, Tennesse Williams, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller. Ok, maybe I’m stretching it to include Horton!

  • Shannon D. says:

    Larry Kramer … or Tony Kushner
    … can you see a theme here? 🙂

  • Brian Estwick says:


  • Jennifer Jenkins says:

    Still living?
    Tom Stoppard

    Theresa Rebeck

    Hasn’t made it to Broadway but you’ll be hearing from these Atlantans soon? 🙂
    Topher Payne
    Steve Yockey (actually he lives in L.A. now)

    Actually, I agree with many comments here – its the packaging of playwright w/star performers that will bring in the crowds.

  • Kyle Abraham says:

    New playwright or old?
    Edward Albee

  • Nick V says:

    Judd Apatow

  • David says:

    Theresa Rebeck

  • Lisa V says:

    Pretty sure having big, oscar-bait movies out this season are going to make Tony Kushner and Martin Mcdonagh part of this club

  • Colton says:

    Edward Albee and Tom Stoppard.

  • Madison Decker says:

    Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and, of course, William Shakespeare! As a high-school student, I know first-hand how often we read their works in a classroom setting! Kids love acting out the plays in class, so these names are definitely recognizable for high-schoolers. These playwrights can definitely sell tickets based on just their name. I do agree with other comments, because star power certainly can’t hurt.

  • Theo says:

    Tony Kushner sprung to mind. And then of course the legends — Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Shakespeare!

  • Hi Ken, I’ve reviewed the list above and want to add “John Patrick Stanley”. Others mentioned: Tony Kushner and Aaron Sorkin.

  • Jared W says:

    I don’t think any playwright, even Mamet, has enough “star power” to sell tickets on their own. Many of the playwrights mentioned above certainly have enough clout to get their plays noticed, but awareness isn’t the same thing as selling tickets. To truly break out, a play needs something else, be it star power or glowing reviews.

  • Diana Lipkus says:

    The whole premise of this play contest has been altered by the fact that even David Mamet himself can not sell tickets just on his name.

    The show was canceled two days ago.

    I think that the only person effectively selling tickets on their name alone at this moment is Kathy Lee Gifford who is shamelessly promoting her show with endless plugs along with Hoda on her morning TV show.

    I think it’s simply scandalous how this show has been plugged adnauseum.

    • Diana Lipkus says:

      Well, I must sadly report that even Kathie Lee Gifford , with all her name recognition, has not successfully sold tickets to SCANDALOUS. The show is set to close on Dec 9. Kathie Lee and Hoda just ordered a few extra cases of wine to help Kathie Lee over the financial hurt. This is a bad week for hopes and dreams on the Big White Way.

  • Ed Perchaluk says:

    Hmm, never thought I’d mention this trio in the same sentence: Tom Stoppard, Edward Albee, and Charles Busch. The latter for almost-guaranteed entertainment.

  • Stephanie Ross says:

    Theresa Rebeck, with Smash, Seminar, and now Dead Accounts.
    Perhaps Craig Wright with Grace.
    I’d like to say Rick Elice for Peter and the Starcatcher, even though he adapted the novel.
    Terrence McNally – Master Class and Golden Age

    I also think a Tennessee Williams play will sell tickets (Streetcar Named Desire this season), as well as an August Wilson one.

  • Andrew Beck says:

    Playwrights may heighten interest, but theatergoers consider so much nowadays, which is why Neil Simon couldn’t make a go of it several years back and why Mamet’s Anarchist will close on December 16 (my birthday by the way!), Do you think Glengarry would be so much in demand without Pacino. I don’t think playwrights automatically sell (see John Guare’s last outing) but only a handful of stars have that power, but only if their forays onto the Main Stem are rare and infrequent. If Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts made annual appearances in new plays or revivals, their cachet would begin to wear off.

  • Cathie A. says:

    Its a sorry state of affairs or maybe its similar to other arts where you become more famous and your art more valuable [$$] after you’re gone.
    I had to google Playwrights to get a list of names, and other than Aaron Sorkin, I had never heard of most of them, and those that I were familiar with, had passed on.

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