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American Buffalo is a 1975 play by Americanmarker playwright David Mamet which had its premiere in a showcase production at the Goodman Theatremarker, Chicago. Critic Frank Rich called it "one of the best American plays of the last decade."


Goodman Theatre

The play premiered at the Goodman Theatremarker, Chicago, on November 23rd, 1975 for a 12-performance showcase. Directed by Gregory Mosher,

It received other short productions in Chicago and New York as well.

Ethel Barrymore Theatre

Opened on Broadwaymarker on February 16th, 1977 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatremarker and closed on June 11th, 1977 after 122 performances and 13 previews. Produced by Edgar Lansbury and directed by Ulu Grosbard,

An Off-Broadway revival opened on June 3, 1981 at Circle in the Squaremarker Downtown and closed on July 11, 1982 after 262 performances.

Booth Theatre

A Broadway revival opened on October 27, 1983 at the Booth Theatre and closed on February 4, 1984 after 93 performances and 7 previews. Directed by Arvin Brown.
  • Bobby .... James Hayden
  • Walter "Teach" Cole .... Al Pacino
  • Don Dubrow .... J. J. Johnston

Balasco Theatre

A Broadway revival began performances at the Belasco Theatremarker on October 31, 2008 (previews), opened on November 17 and closed on November 23, 2008. It was directed by Robert Falls.

Činoherní klub

  • Directed by Ondřej Sokol. The play had premiere October 26th 2006 in The Drama Club , Prague. Czech name is Americký Bizon.
  • Bobby .... Marek Taclík
  • Walter "Teach" Cole .... Michal Pavlata
  • Don Dubrow .... Petr Nárožný

Remains Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

The play will run from Dec. 3, 2009 to Feb. 7, 2010 a.t Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyDirected by Amy Morton

Film adaptation
The play was also adapted to a 1996 film, with Dennis Franz (Don) and Dustin Hoffman (Teach) starring.


The play concerns a team of men, Don, Teach, Bob, and Fletcher (who does not appear in the play, but is referred to), who are conspiring to steal a coin collection from a wealthy man. Don, who owns a junk shop, sold a nickel to a man for much less than what it was worth. Out of revenge, he and his young gofer, Bob, plan to steal the man's coin collection after suspecting that he went away for the weekend. Teach, an experienced and misanthropic friend of Don's, persuades Don to release Bob from the job because of what Teach feels is inexperience and potential disloyalty. Towards the end of the play, Bob, out of a need for money, attempts to sell Don a rare nickel, similar to the one Don sold. In a culmination of anger, Teach hits Bob on the head, believing that he stole the coin back and betrayed them. Fletcher, the outside man who never appeared in the play, ends up getting mugged and beaten by thugs.


As is emblematic of Mamet's writing style, the play's dialogue is sometimes terse and often vulgar. Teach uses the word "cunt" numerous times and both Don and Teach use the word "fuck" quite loosely. (By way of contrast, Bobby, younger and more vulnerable, only says "fuck" in situations of extreme duress: immediately after being beaten and his final apology to Donnie.) Mamet's profanity is not employed for shock value, but is rather an integral component of his characters' "profane poetry", which, according to frequent collaborator Gregory Mosher, "worked the iambic pentameter out of the vernacular of the underclass." The characters' sometimes vulgar lexicon, moreover, may be seen as psychologically necessary armor against their brutal environment.

The parenthetical stage directions are straightforward and do not provide line readings.

Awards and nominations

The play won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play of the 1977 season, and was also nominated for two Tony Awards: Best Direction of a Play and Best Scenic Design (Santo Loquasto). It received four Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding New Play (American).

The 1983 revival was nominated for the Tony Award, Best Reproduction and the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Actor in a Play (Pacino).

In 1976 the play won an Obie Award for best new play.


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