Cate Blanchett's Bookshelf
By David Mamet
This play represented such a turning point for me as an actor. I'd just come out of drama school and I was playing opposite Geoffrey Rush. I had to leave my own baggage at the door and take on this character who would be understood by some and hated by others. Mamet has taken all the extraneous stuff away and left you with just this searing, polemic essential battle to the death. Geoffrey and I keep saying Oleanna is an inkblot test, because your reaction to it reveals to you your own sense of politics. It's so provocative—afterward, people were shouting at one another passionately. To see that happen in the theater lobby, which can be such a bourgeois, polite space, I just knew this is what I should be doing with my life.