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Women as jerks: The ladies have a go at Glengarry Glen Ross

In an intro screenwriting class, a professor’s often fervent only on a few rules, usually careful not to spurn or dehydrate creative juices. Most of the rules can be found in 2002’s Adaptation, in which Nicholas Cage’s character blows through all the major faux pas (“God help you if you use voice-over”). But the biggest red pen mistake is writing direction — movements, inflections, pauses — into a script.

David Mamet’s screenplays would be soaked in Sharpie. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script for his play Glengarry Glen Ross, about four desperate real-estate agents ready to toe the line of morality when threatened with termination if they can’t close deals on a pile of crummy sal es leads, is full of pauses, italicized words for emphasis and telling punctuation.

The way it’s done — overbearingly, patriarchally — drives home the notion already created in the play that Mamet is, or at least probably is, an asshole. Which is why his characters, deplorable, spiteful, conniving, are so assholishly perfect. And why, because of his strict demand for verbatim use of his work, Glengarry Glen Ross on stage is near identical to James Foley’s 1992 film adaptation. One of the few moments in which liking the play probably means liking the movie (unless you dislike Alec Baldwin).

But the version playing this weekend at Theatre7 is a little different. The characters, the brass-balled, cocksucker-accusing, man’s-man characters, will all be played by women as women.

Director Ruth Pe Palileo’s concept here is that, not only are most real-estate agents these days women, and thus have the same shark-like approach to closing sales, but with the housing situation in Nevada how it is, and considering two of the show’s actresses are vocational real-estate agents, the desperation conveyed won’t be completely fictitious. But even the F-bombing of the stage is beyond what these real-life agents are used to.

“The words don’t necessarily match our interpretation of how women should express themselves,” says Marlena Shapiro, playing the cool-headed but cunt-shouting Ricky Roma. “How often in public do you hear women calling each other cocksuckers?”

The question is a micro-level version of the larger idea here: How well will women play women who don’t respect women?

Glengarry Glen Ross Nov. 3-5, 8-10, 14-17, 7 p.m.; Theatre7, 1406 S. 3rd St., 349-2283, $15.