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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Scot Davis and Shamrock McShane's rendition of David Mamet's play "American Buffalo" is not your conventional theater production.The dimming lights, heavy curtains and theatrical music are nowhere to be found.Instead, they opt to produce the play with what Davis calls "organic staging" - the stage is set up so the audience can be included in the dramatic action.The audience sits on and around the set in the intimate setting of the Civic Media Center stage, which can hold about 30 people at the most."They see it from every possible perspective," McShane said."American Buffalo" will be opening at the center, 1021 W University Ave., on Friday.

The play is set in Don's Retail Shop in Chicago and is about three losers in a junk shop planning to steal a coin collection. The story centers around the shift of trust and loyalty among the three men."There's a certain level of honor among miscreants," Davis said. "Even people from different walks of life have a code of ethics."In their version of Mamet's play, Davis and McShane will be in character selling items from the junk shop to audience members before the play even begins."We like the idea of starting without the audience knowing that what they've been watching is part of the play," McShane said.The lines of reality and theater will be blurred even further when the play moves out onto University Avenue and the street becomes a part of the production.When the audience participates, Davis and McShane are ready to improvise. When they put on the same production last year, they had a homeless man wander through the play."I escorted him across the stage and out the front doors," McShane said.Davis and McShane have put on several of Mamet's plays in the past, starting with their production of "Glengarry Glen Ross" in 1990."Our partnership thrives on friendship," McShane said. "That's what makes it click.""American Buffalo" runs every Friday and Saturday until Oct. 20.Tickets cost a suggested ,10, but donations can be made on a sliding scale."If people can't afford that, we'll find a way to get them in," McShane said, promising the play won't disappoint. "They'll never see another play like this as long as they live."

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