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A David Mamet coup in Spokane

Spokane’s Interplayers Professional Theatre has scored a significant coup: It will stage one of the first productions anywhere of David Mamet’s “Race” since it closed on Broadway in August.

This controversial play, about a white businessman accused of raping a black woman, will run March 31 through April 16, replacing the musical “Cotton Patch Gospel” on the Interplayers calendar. “Cotton Patch Gospel” will return on next season’s list.

The only other production opened Jan. 21 at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The last time a Spokane theater landed such a new Broadway play would be – well, never, as far as I can recall.

How did Interplayers pull this off? Read on ...

“We swung for the bleachers,” said Interplayers artistic director Reed McColm.

He said he read the play when it first came out and loved it. When he inquired about the rights, he was told that the rights were restricted, as they usually are for a play so new.

And there the matter would have normally rested. But McColm persisted and contacted Mamet’s agent, who contacted Mamet. At first, everyone was reluctant to let a relatively small theater have the rights.

“But then they looked at a map and saw where we were,” said McColm. “They said, oh, yeah, well, go ahead.”

They realized that a Spokane showing would not interfere with the more lucrative Seattle or Portland markets.

Mamet is the playwright and screenwriter known for "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Speed the Plow," "Wag the Dog," "Oleanna" and "American Buffalo."

“Race” is about a law firm  defending a white businessman accused of raping a young black woman.

“It’s typical Mamet – blunt and deliberately incendiary,” said McColm.

The Broadway run ran for 297 performances in 2009 and 2010 and starred James Spader, David Alan Grier, Richard Thomas and Kerry Washington.

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Jim Kershner
is a senior correspondent who writes for the Today section.