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Authors: David Mamet

Speed-the-Plow

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SPEED-THE-PLOW

WORKS BY DAVID MAMET PUBLISHED BY GROVE PRESS

American Buffalo

The Cherry Orchard
(
adapted from Anton Chekhov
)

Five Television Plays

Glengarry Glen Ross

Goldberg Street: Short Plays and Monologues

Homicide

House of Games: A Screenplay

A Life in the Theatre

Reunion
and
Dark Pony

Sexual Perversity in Chicago
and
The Duck Variations

The Shawl
and
Prairie du Chien

Speed-the-Plow

Things Change: A Screenplay (
with Shel Silverstein
)

Three Children's Plays

Warm and Cold
(
with Donald Sultan
)

We're No Angels

The Woods, Lakeboat, Edmond

SPEED-THE-PLOW

A PLAY BY

DAVID MAMET

Copyright © 1985, 1986, 1987 by David Mamet

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, should send inquiries to Grove Atlantic, 154 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011 or
[email protected]
.

CAUTION
: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that
Speed-the-Plow
is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and all British Commonwealth countries, and all countries covered by the International Copyright Union, the Pan-American Copyright Convention, and the Universal Copyright Convention. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

First-class professional, stock, and amateur applications for permission to perform it, and those other rights stated above, must be made in advance, before rehearsals begin, to the author’s agent: Ronald Gwiazda, Abrams Artists Agency, 275 Seventh Avenue, 26
th
floor, New York, NY 10001.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Mamet, David.

Speed-the-plow.

I. Title.

PS3563.A4345S64 1988 812’.54 87-37252

eISBN: 978-0-8021-9181-6

Cover design by Royce M. Becker

Grove Press an imprint of Grove Atlantic, 154 West 14th Street, 12
th
floor, New York, NY 10011

Distributed by Publishers Group West

www.groveatlantic.com

T
HIS PLAY IS DEDICATED

TO H
OWARD
R
OSENSTONE

Which is the most reasonable, and does his duty best: he who stands aloof from the struggle of life, calmly contemplating it, or he who descends to the ground, and takes his part in the contest? “That philosopher,” Pen said, “had held a great place amongst the leaders of the world, and enjoyed to the full what it had to give of rank and riches, renown and pleasure, who came, weary-hearted, out of it, and said that all was vanity and vexation of spirit. Many a teacher of those whom we reverence, and who steps out of his carriage up to his carved cathedral place, shakes his lawn ruffles over the velvet cushion, and cries out that the whole struggle is an accursed one, and the works of the world are evil. Many a conscience-stricken mystic flies from it altogether, and shuts himself out from it within convent walls (real or spiritual), whence he can only look up to the sky, and contemplate the heaven out of which there is no rest, and no good.

“But the earth, where our feet are, is the work of the same Power as the immeasurable blue yonder, in which the future lies into which we would peer. Who ordered sickness, ordered poverty, failure, success—to this man a foremost place, to the other a nameless struggle with the crowd—to that a shameful fall, or paralyzed limb or sudden accident—to each some work upon the ground he stands on, until he is laid beneath it.”

T
HACKERAY
,

Pendennis

Speed-the-Plow
was first presented in a New York Broadway production by Lincoln Center Theater at the Royale Theater, opening on May 3, 1988, with the following cast:

B
OBBY
G
OULD
Joe Mantegna
C
HARLIE
F
OX
Ron Silver
K
AREN
Madonna

Directed by Gregory Mosher; sets by Michael Merritt; costumes by Nan Cibula; lighting by Kevin Rigdon.

SPEED-THE-PLOW

CHARACTERS

B
OBBY
G
OULD
, C
HARLIE
F
OX
, two men around forty

K
AREN
, a woman in her twenties

SCENES

O
NE
: Gould's office, morning

T
WO
: His home, that evening

T
HREE
: His office, the next morning

ONE

Gould's office. Morning. Boxes and painting materials all around. Gould is sitting, reading, Fox enters.

G
OULD
: When the gods would make us mad, they answer our prayers.

F
OX
: Bob. . .

G
OULD
: I'm in the midst of the wilderness.

F
OX
: Bob . . .

G
OULD
: If it's not quite “Art” and it's not quite “Entertainment,” it's here on my desk. I have inherited a monster.

F
OX
: . . . Bob . . .

G
OULD
: Listen to this . . . (
Reads
:) “How are things made round? Was there one thing which, originally, was round . . .?”

F
OX
: . . . Bob . . .

G
OULD (
leafing through the book he is reading, reads
): “A certain frankness came to it. . .” (
He leafs
.) “The man,

downcast, then met the priest, under the bridge, beneath that bridge which stood for so much, where so much had transpired
since
the radiation.”

F
OX
: . . . yeah, Bob, that's great. . .

G
OULD
: Listen to this: “and with it brought grace. But still the questions persisted . . . that of the Radiation. That of the growth of animalism, the decay of the soil. And it said ‘Beyond terror. Beyond grace’ . . . and caused a throbbing . . . machines in the void . . .” (
He offers the book to Fox.
) Here: take a page.

F
OX
: I have to talk to you.

G
OULD
: Chuck, Chuck, Chuck,
Charles
: you get too old, too busy to have ‘fun’ this business; to have ‘fun,’ then what are you . . .?

F
OX
: . . . Bob . . .

G
OULD
: What are you?

F
OX
: What am I. . .?

G
OULD
: Yes.

F
OX
: What am I when?

G
OULD
: What are you, I was saying, if you're just a slave to commerce?

F
OX
: If I'm just a slave to commerce?

G
OULD
: Yes.

F
OX
: I'm nothing.

G
OULD
: No.

F
OX
: You're absolutely right.

G
OULD
: You got to have fun. You know why?

F
OX
: Okay: why?

G
OULD
: Because, or else you'll die, and people will say “he never had any fun.”

F
OX
: How close are you to Ross?

G
OULD
: How close am I to Ross . . .? I don't know How close should I be?

F
OX
: I have to ask you something.

G
OULD
(
pause
): Go ahead, Charl.

F
OX
: You wanna’ greenlight a picture? What's your deal, what's your new deal?

G
OULD
: What's my new deal, that's all you can talk about?

F
OX
: What's your new deal?

G
OULD
: Alright. Over ten mil I need Ross's approval. Under ten mil, I can greenlight it. So what. (
Pause.
)

F
OX
: This morning, Bob.

G
OULD
: . . . Yes . . .?

F
OX
: This morning a man came to me.

G
OULD
: . . . a man came to you. Whaddayou, already, you're here to “Promote” me . . .?

F
OX
: Bob . . .

G
OULD
: You here to promote me? Charl? Because, Charl, one thing I don't need . . .

F
OX
: Bob.

G
OULD
: When everybody in this jolly
town
is tryin’ to promote me, do you wanna see my messages . . . ?

F
OX
: Bob.

G
OULD
: “Get Him While He's Hot” . . .

F
OX
: Yes, yes, but. ..

G
OULD
: My good, my “good” friend, Charles Fox . . .

F
OX
: Bob . . .

G
OULD
: That's why we have “channels.”

F
OX
: Uh huh.

G
OULD
: All these “little” people out there, that we see. Y'unnerstand? Fellow asks “what are they
there
for?” Well, Charl, We Don't Know. But we
think,
you give the thing to
your
boy, gives it to
my
boy, these people get to
eat,
they don't have to go
beg,
and get in everybody's face the
airport
the whole time. This morning the phone won't stop ringing. Do you know who's calling? Everybody says they met me in
Topeka,
1962, and do I want to make their movie. Guys want me to do remakes of films haven't been made yet.

F
OX
: . . . Huh, huh . . .

G
OULD
: I'm drowning in “coverage.” (
He picks up a script and reads
:) “The Story of a Horse and the Horse Who Loved Him.” (
He drops script
.). . . Give me a breather from all those fine folk suddenly see what a great “man” I am. N'when I
do
return my calls, Charl, do you know what I'll tell those people?

F
OX
: No.

G
OULD
: I'm going to tell them “Go through Channels.” This protects me from them. And from folk, fine as they are, like you, Charl, when you come to me for favors. Or did you come up here to congratulate me on my new promotion?

F
OX
: Congratulations.

G
OULD
: Do I deserve it?

F
OX
: Yes. You do, Bob.

G
OULD
: Why?

F
OX
: Because you're a prince among men and you're Yertle the Turtle.

G
OULD
: Alright then, that's enough. What did you bring me?

F
OX
: This morning, Bob.

G
OULD
: Yes?

F
OX
: This morning Doug Brown came to me.

G
OULD
: . . . Doug Brown.

F
OX
(
pause
): He came to my
house
Bob. How would you
like
. . . How would you like for Doug Brown to “cross the street” to do a picture for us? (
Pause.
) Bob? How would you
like
, a script that I got him. He's
nuts
for it, he's free, we could start to shoot next
month
, I have his word and he'll come to the studio, and do the film for us. Doug Brown will cross the street and do a film for us next month.

G
OULD
(picks up phone): Get me Ross. (Pause.)

F
OX
: . . . do you see what I'm telling you?

G
OULD
: . . . he came to your house . . .

F
OX
: . . . can you believe what I'm saying to you . . .?

G
OULD
: Douggie Brown. (
Into phone
:)
Ross
(
Pause
)
Richard Ross
. . . no, no, no,
don't
look in the book . . . there's a button on the console . . . Richard R . . . just

push the button on the. . . (
Pause.
) There's a button on the console . . . Richard Ross . . . just . ..
Thank
you. (
Hangs up the phone. Pause.
) Are you alright?

F
OX
: I'm fine. I'm fine, I just need coffee.

G
OULD
: We'll get it for you. Tell mmm . . .

F
OX
: Alright, I, this is some time ago.

G
OULD
: . . . uh huh . . .

F
OX
: That I get the script to Brown . . .

G
OULD
: What script. . .?

F
OX
: You don't know it, a prison script . . .

G
OULD (
simultaneously with “script"
): One of ours . . .?

F
OX
: I found it in the file. I
loved
it . . . all the time I'm thinking . . .

G
OULD
: Uh huh . . .

F
OX
: How to do this script, I, one day . . .

G
OULD
: Uh huh . . .

F
OX
: . . . so . . .

G
OULD
: So, you give the script to Brown . . .

F
OX
: Not “him,” his . . .

G
OULD
: Uh huh . . .

F
OX
: . . . his . . .

G
OULD
: . . . I know . . .

F
OX
: His “guy.”

G
OULD
: Yes.

F
OX
:
Gives
Douggie the script . . . (
Phone rings
. G
OULD
picks up the phone.
)

G
OULD (
into phone
): Yes. Thank you. (
Hangs up.
) Ross
'
ll get back to us . . .

F
OX
: . . . His guy
gives
Douggie the scri. . .

G
OULD
: He gives Douggie the script.

F
OX
: Yes.

G
OULD
: Mmm . . .

F
OX
:
Months
ago, alright?
I
don't know.
Today
, alright. . .? Today. (
Pause.
) I'm having coffee . . .

G
OULD
: Umm hmmm . . .

F
OX
: Who drives up?

G
OULD
: . . . coffee at your house . . .

F
OX
: Who drives up?

G
OULD
: Douggie Brown.

F
OX
: Douglas Brown drives up to my house. (
Pause.
) He says “I Want To Do Your Script. I've got this other thing to deal with, and we'll settle it tomorrow Call me ten o'clock tomorrow morning. I'll come in and sign
up.”
(
Phone rings.
)

G
OULD
(
into phone
):
Hello
. . . who? No calls.
No
calls. Just Richard Ross. And we need coffee . . . okay?
Got
it. . .? (
Hangs up.
)

F
OX
: . . . cross the street to shoot it. . .? And he says “why not.” (
Pause.
)

G
OULD
: . . .
huh
. . .

F
OX
: Huh . . .?

G
OULD
: . . . He'd come over here to shoot it. . .

F
OX
: Sonofabitch like out of some damn fairytale.

G
OULD
: . . . he drove to your house . . .

F
OX
: . . . I'm looking out the window . . .

G
OULD
: . . . son of a bitch . . .

F
OX
: . . . Douglas Brown drives up . . .

(
The phone rings
. G
OULD
picks it up.
)

G
OULD (
into phone
): Hello. Yes.
Richard
. . . (
Pause.
) Yes. Put him . . . Hello,
Richard.
Fine, just fine. They're painting it. Well, thank you. Thank you. Listen Richard. Do you need some good news . . .? (
Pause.
) Well, it's a surprise that I've got for you. No, I want to tell you in person. Do you have five mi . . . (
Checks watch.
) We'll be there. (
Pause.
) Charlie Fox . . .
Charlie
came in with a . . . (
Pause.
) Right. Right. We'll be there. Right. (
Hangs up.
) Well. We see him in ten minutes.

F
OX
:
Yessir.
I need some coffee.

G
OULD
: Oh, Jesus, what's the . . .

F
OX
: What. . .?

G
OULD
: The, what's the story? Tell me the . . .

F
OX
:
I
can tell it. No, you're right.
You
tell it.

G
OULD
: Gimme the broad outl. . .

F
OX
: Yes, yes.

G
OULD
: Just sketch me the broad . . .

F
OX
: Yes, yes, the
thing,
of course, is . . .

G
OULD
: Douggie, Brown, of course, the thing . . .

F
OX
: "A Douggie Brown picture” . . .

G
OULD
: A Douggie Brown picture . . .

F
OX
: Eh? A buddy . . .

G
OULD
: A
Buddy
Picture.

F
OX
: Douggie and . . .

G
OULD
: “Watch this space,” I got it. . .

F
OX
: Right.

G
OULD
: The Flavor of the Month . . . okay, now, what's the story?

F
OX
: Doug's in prison.

G
OULD
: . . . prison . . .

F
OX
: Right. These guys, they want to get him.

G
OULD
:
Black
guys . . .

F
OX
: Black guys in the prison.

G
OULD
(
into phone
): Coffee, quickly, can you get some coffee in here? (
Hangs up.
)

F
OX
: And the black guys going to rape his ass.

G
OULD
: Mmm.

BOOK: Speed-the-Plow
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