By Robert Vorlicky
How males speak with one another on level whilst no ladies are present--and what it tells us approximately strength and gender
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Additional info for Act Like a Man: Challenging Masculinities in American Drama
Introducing initial codes in the first scene that will characterize the men's dialogue for two acts, Levene and Williamson establish another critical feature of Mamet's social dialogue: metalinguistics. They, like Moss and Aaronow in the scene to follow, talk a great 33 ï»¿ACT LIKE A MAN deal about their talk. Explicitly, they indicate the discourse coher- ence of their conversation through their topic selection; implicitly, they struggle to establish the power relationship between speaker and listener, identifying who occupies the position of authority.
Throughout Moss's rigorous defense of the plan to rob the real estate office, Aaronow remains an ambivalent, inconsistent listener. From moment to moment the idea either appeals to him or seems the illegal act that it is. Tempted by avarice, this decentered man becomes a postmodern everyman in Mamet's contemporary moral- ity play; he appears to be the central, pivotal character around whom the play's construction and (cultural) ideology develop. As the everyman figure, Aaronow initially wields a great deal of power-especially in the spectator's identification with him-in terms of the significance of the choices he makes.
Act 2 is set in Williamson's ransacked real estate office. Despite its burgled setting, this act-which essentially is an office play- nonetheless manifests a common characteristic of many all-male institutional plays: a hierarchy of professional authority exists at any one time in the dramatic space. As in other office plays,10 bosses interact with employees, seasoned employees counsel younger employees, and employees court clients. Added to the set- ting, however, is Baylen, a police detective, whose appearance overrides the authority of both boss and workers.