November: A Play
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David Mamet's new Oval Office satire depicts one day in the life of a beleaguered American commander-in-chief. It's November in a Presidential election year, and incumbent Charles Smith's chances for reelection are looking grim. Approval ratings are down, his money's running out, and nuclear war might be imminent. Though his staff has thrown in the towel and his wife has begun to prepare for her post-White House life, Chuck isn't ready to give up just yet. Amidst the biggest fight of his political career, the President has to find time to pardon a couple of turkeys -- saving them from the slaughter before Thanksgiving -- and this simple PR event inspires Smith to risk it all in attempt to win back public support. With Mamet's characteristic no-holds-barred style, November is a scathingly hilarious take on the state of America today and the lengths to which people will go to win.
listen, “can they get along?”… We care if they paint their fence. We don’t know who they vote for. CHARLES: … no … BERNSTEIN: We don’t know “what they do in bed…” Who would be disrespectful enough to inquire …? CHARLES: … yes … BERNSTEIN: If you look at the polls… (Sneezes.) CHARLES: Gesundheit. BERNSTEIN: It seems: We are “a nation divided.” But: We aren’t a “nation divided,” Sir. We’re a democracy we hold different opinions. But: We laugh at the same jokes, we clap each other on the
turkeys. ARCHER: That’s right. CHARLES: So, the going rate, this year … fifty grand a pop … would be not fifty, but a hundred thousand dollars. ARCHER: I’m not sure that they’ve got it in them. CHARLES: Well, let’s find out—how much is turkey? (To phone) How much is turkey a pound? No, tell her I’m busy. (Pause) Yeah, all right. Cathy, we’re not at war with Iraq. I misspoke … ARCHER: We are at war with Iraq. CHARLES: Cathy? We ARE at war with Iraq, we AREN’T at war with Iran. (Pause) I’ll
listen to me. (Pause) Things. From now on. Will, in their running, more closely approximate a Swiss watch, and less and less call to mind A CLUSTER FUCK. I’m too old. I’m too tired. And, if “things” don’t, heads are going to roll. Arch. Heads are going to roll. And where they come to rest, I do not care. (A second line rings. ARCHER answers.) ARCHER: The Turkey and Poultry Association. CHARLES: To review, yes? How much is turkey a pound …? ARCHER: It’s a dollar ninety-eight. CHARLES: Two
shake down …? ARCHER: Chucky … It’s over. CHARLES: No. Arch, I’d have to go home broke. ARCHER: Take the one ninety-five. CHARLES: No library … ARCHER: Even Cinderella had to go home sometime. (Pause.) CHARLES: Someday. Some “researcher,” in some deep repository of our nation’s papers. Some budding “historian,” devoted to “the life of the mind,” will come across a note. That, in the past, there was such a figure, as CHARLES P. Smith. That he lived, and suffered. Who was he? ARCHER: Who?
is the ability to live forever. CHARLES: Indeed it is. But my legacy. Will die on Tuesday, when that wanker gets elected. ARCHER: I know. It’s wrong. CHARLES: A harsh world, Bernstein, is it not …? BERNSTEIN: (Waking up) Sir … CHARLES: Harsh world. Especially for you. BERNSTEIN: For me? CHARLES: As you are a lesbian. BERNSTEIN: In essence, yes. CHARLES: Thus, your day, must abound with constant horrendous disappointments, insults and betrayals. BERNSTEIN: I endeavor, Sir, to live my