ASK PLAYBILL.COM: A Question About an Extra Character From Glengarry Glen Ross

By Robert Simonson
December 11, 2012

The film version of Glengarry Glen Ross features an additional character, named Blake, who is not seen in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play. What gives?



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Question: Concerning this Broadway current revival of Glengarry Glen Ross: Is the character Blake, made famous by Alec Baldwin in the film, written into this production? I believe the original production did not contain this scene which was specifically written for the James Foley film by Mamet. — Henry Erlenwein, Staten Island, New York

For those who have never seen the 1992 film of David Mamet's most famous play, Glengarry Glen Ross, but know the stage script well, this question will seem confusing. Who the heck is Blake? The drama, set in a real estate office, has always had seven characters — the salesmen Shelly Levene, Ricky Roma, Dave Moss and George Aaronow; office manager John Williamson; client James Lingk; and detective Baylen — and a guy named Blake ain't one of them.

Blake is a character who only appeared in the movie adaptation, which was directed by James Foley and written by Mamet. He was played by Alec Baldwin, then in the first flush of fame, and only appears in the film's first ten minutes. But what a ten minutes! Baldwin's performance was so electric and magnetic, and Mamet's words crackle so intensely that it's often cited as one of the effective cameo movie performances in film history.

Blake is sent by the real estate office's unseen owners, Mitch and Murray, to shake up the staff and motivate them into selling more property. (If you saw the film, you may recall the scene for its "ABC — always be closing" speech, at a chalkboard. In the play, the "ABC" reference is merely an epigraph. In the new Broadway revival, the saying is projected on the curtain.) Blake does this through two stratagem: a torrent of classic Mametian verbal abuse; and by introducing a sales contest. (First prize, a new car; second prize, a set of steak knives; third prize, "You're fired.") Baldwin based his delivery of the monologue on George C. Scott's "Wars are won..." speech in the film "Patton."

To date, Blake has never been part of any professional stage production of Glengarry Glen Ross that we could find. Producer Jeffrey Richards, who has produced the play twice on Broadway, including the current production, declined to comment on whether he had ever asked for, or considered, the inclusion of the character and speech in the play. A request for comment from Mamet was not answered by press time.

However, Blake was part of a production at Fairfield University in Connecticut earlier this fall, as a collaboration between the university's arts and sciences and business schools. The production was part of the syllabus for a dozen classes in business, economics, philosophy, communications and politics.

The website avclub.com recently offered an appreciation of the Blake scene.