Close this search box.

David Thacker on fringe venues, local talent and the gripping American Buffalo

Discover the captivating journey of David Thacker, former artistic director at the Octagon, as he brings Mamet's 'American Buffalo' to life at The Kings Arms, Salford.
David Thacker

David Thacker is a familiar name to Bolton theatregoers, as he was artistic director at the Octagon for six years until 2015, bringing audiences the work of Arthur Miller, Michael Frayn and John Steinbeck.

He introduced theatre season tickets, offering half-price theatre, and many of his productions broke attendance records.

He is hoping to do the same in Salford at the Kings Arms later this month when he directs David Mamet’s American Buffalo – a dialogue-driven piece where words become weapons.

We caught up with him to find out more.

What attracted you to American Buffalo?

Colin Connor and David MacCreedy, two actors that I admire and have worked with very happily many times, invited me to direct American Buffalo at the King’s Arms, Salford.

I’m very keen to support Lisa Connor in her aspiration to present more home-produced work at this special fringe venue.

I’ve never directed a Mamet play before and American Buffalo is very contemporary and challenging.

David Mamet’s work is immediate, and his dialogue is always memorable. As a director, do you shape everything around that, or do you have more freedom?

When I direct any play, I always start from the text and try to understand the writer’s intentions.

In that sense directing Mamet is no different to directing a play by Beckett, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Chekov Ibsen – or even Shakespeare.

Mamet’s dialogue is brilliant, and we pay very close attention to the language in rehearsal.

The characters communicate with each other through language and the actors must invent through language.

However, to live in the moment, to say what they mean and mean what they say the actors need to understand the emotional and psychological life of the characters.

The synthesis of thought, feeling, subtext and language is best achieved by actors fully grasping their objectives moment by moment, and engaging empathetically.

Far from being a restriction, the words release the actors and help them.

The King’s Arms is a venue where the audience can see everything, there is nowhere to hide. How does this suit a play like this one?


The action of the play takes place within touching distance of the audience who are in the room with the characters.

You have directed so many great productions. What keeps you coming back for more?

It makes me happy to be in rehearsal with talented actors trying to understand and express a great play for the widest possible audience.

And if the play has a real impact on people, I feel very satisfied and fulfilled.

Why would you recommend this play to newcomers to the work of David Mamet and fans of his writing?

I hope for fans of Mamet’s writing the play will seem fresh and alive.

I hope they will feel they are watching the play as if for the first time.

I hope they, and people who have never seen American Buffalo before, are gripped from beginning to end.

Most of all, I hope people who have never seen any play before will be riveted and stunned by the power of live theatre.

And I hope they will feel as if these events are happening in the same room as them.

That it will have a huge impact on them.

American Buffalo is at The Kings Arms from 14th – 24th March and can be booked here

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.