Patti LuPone and Debra Winger Weigh the Fate of David Mamet's The Anarchist

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01 Dec 2012

Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone
Photo by Joan Marcus

The stars of The Anarchist talk about the work, the words and the world of David Mamet's fierce new Broadway drama set in a women's prison.


Patti LuPone has a confession: "I don't go after anything because I'm lazy." You'd never know it from her voracious work on stage, but the two-time Tony-winning Evita and Gypsy actress, a self-proclaimed "stage rat," hasn't pursued a role until now.

She's back on Broadway this season opposite three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger, the steely-voiced actress of "Terms of Endearment" and "An Officer and a Gentleman," in the new two-woman David Mamet drama The Anarchist, which the playwright is also directing.

"It's been 15 years since I did one of David's plays, it was The Old Neighborhood, and that was too long for me [to wait]," says LuPone, who has known Mamet since the two met on a bus while touring the country with The Acting Company in 1976. "I learn so much from David when I'm in the room with him and I missed that," she says. "I miss being directed by him, listening to him talk about acting, and listening to him talk about life."

So, what's a girl to do? Just ask. Following the Broadway opening of Mamet's Race in 2009, LuPone sent her old pal an e-mail asking for a play. He replied with The Anarchist. Then it almost didn't happen — a 2011 London production was announced without LuPone. "I said to David, 'Let me play it in New York.'" Mamet replied, as LuPone recalls, in his quintessential manner, "F*** London, let's do it here now."

The actress had one more request — Mamet had to direct. "I told him, 'You have to, because I know my best work is when you direct me,'" LuPone says. The playwright obliged.

However, one key piece of the puzzle was still missing — LuPone's co-star. Another actress was originally announced, but the plan didn't come to fruition. It was then that Winger, a no-nonsense straight-talker who held her own among Hollywood boys' club and lived to tell, was announced as LuPone's co-star.


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