Curtain Call: Singer Rebecca Pidgeon Takes on Acting in The Anarchist

Pidgeon stars opposite Felicity Huffman in the David Mamet play running at Theatre Asylum


Actress/singer Rebecca Pidgeon has a suggestion for people planning to see her and Felicity Huffman in a production of David Mamet’s play The Anarchist currently running at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood. “It’s a dense play. I recommend they read it first.”

The Anarchist opened on Broadway in December of 2012. It closed after only 17 regular performances. The 70-minute play depicts Cathy, a felon (played by Huffman) trying to convince Ann, an unspecified representative of the prison system (played by Pidgeon) that she has reformed herself, found God and should be released after 35 years in prison for killing a police officer. Ann isn’t sure if this conversion is real or a manipulation.

“It’s a polemical play between these two characters who are both espousing different ideas,” Pidgeon says. “You see the true desires of each character and therefore you see into their souls somewhat. It’s seeing the anguish of two humans, each trying to convert the other. They are locked into this battle that has been going on for years.”

Much like Mamet’s play Oleanna, this play allows audiences to make up their own mind about which, if either character, is right. “Even I as an actress will be watching Felicity Huffman and thinking, ‘I completely agree with what you’re saying.’ He doesn’t write plays with simple answers and it’s a problem. It’s also a wonderful joy.”

When a play like The Anarchist is unsuccessful, how does Pidgeon, as the playwright’s wife respond? “I’m baffled and saddened if his work isn’t received the way I think it should be,” she reveals. “It’s a mine of wealth and gold. I know, of course, it will be appreciated. If it isn’t at the moment, it certainly will be. It’s too rich not to.”

In addition to acting, Pidgeon is a singer/songwriter. Her most recent recording, Bad Poetry, will be showcased at her gig at the Hotel Café on Saturday. “At the moment I’m really loving my music,” she says, “because it’s something that’s completely mine. I’m directing it and producing it and writing it. It’s hard to write a good song and I’m always finishing a song and thinking, ‘yes, I like this.’ And then the next day I feel like, well, let’s write another and see if we can achieve what I’m looking for.”

Her first recording was Glances Askances when she recorded as one half of the duo in Ruby Blue. Her solo debut album was 1994’s The Raven. Bad Poetry is her eighth album as a solo artist.

Where does she find more joy? In saying the poetry that is Mamet’s writing or singing the poetry of her own? “Oh god. What a question,” she responds. “The music of David Mamet’s writing is like you are getting to play the best music ever written. It’s very classical and very structured. It’s surprising and inevitable at the same time. My songs are idiosyncratic and not classical at all. It’s a thrill to get to sing them and I just hope they are good. Sometimes I know they are good. I would say it’s more like an experimental medium for me.”


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LA Times: Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon work to set ‘Anarchist’ free

In “The Anarchist,” by David Mamet, a former political radical who has served 35 years in jail argues for clemency from a prison official who holds the power to set her free.

Is a second chance in the cards? Perhaps the more relevant question for audiences is whether “The Anarchist” — which flopped on Broadway — deserves one.

For its Los Angeles premiere, two actresses who are no strangers to the playwright’s particular universe have signed on to make the case. Felicity Huffman plays Cathy, the incarcerated leftist who claims to have found Christ, and Rebecca Pidgeon is Ann, her stoic interrogator.

Over the years, they have navigated Mamet’s dialogue numerous times on stage and screen. But in a recent interview, even they conceded that “The Anarchist” has been far from easy.

“I would say this is the most difficult play I’ve ever done,” said Pidgeon. “This wins the gold medal.”

Huffman used a more Mamet-esque description: ” ‘Oh … !’ That was going through my head,” she recalled thinking at the first read-through.

She said the play contains such intricate speech that “it takes me almost two hours to learn a page.”

Both actresses were seated in Hollywood’s Theatre Asylum — a small stage with fewer than 99 seats — where “The Anarchist” is running through late May.

It’s a world away from the 800-seat John Golden Theatre in New York, where the play opened with Patti LuPone and Debra Winger in 2012.

“The Anarchist” was an unconventional choice for Broadway, given its dense, philosophical power plays and minimalist setup — two women in a room, talking.

The play, which runs just 70 minutes, met a quick demise following mostly negative reviews and poor box office. It was a significant setback for Mamet, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist famous for “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Oleanna” and “Speed-the-Plow.”

Both Huffman and Pidgeon said they believe “The Anarchist” is better suited for a small stage.

“I’m so glad we’re here and not at a bigger theater. This tiny, intimate space is claustrophobic, and it feels like the audience is in the room with us,” said Pidgeon. “There’s nowhere to hide here. You’re almost part of the play.”

Huffman said “The Anarchist” requires that audiences be alert and attentive. You “can’t space out because you’re 200 seats back,” she said


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Rebecca Pidgeon Doubles Down With Back-To-Back Play And Concert Performances in Two Different L.A. Venues On May 9th


Multi-talented Singer/Actress Performs In David Mamet’s

“The Anarchist” With Felicity Huffman At L.A.’s Theater Asylum At 8:00 PM

And Rocks With Her Band Bad Poetry at 10:00 PM At Famed Hotel Café


Los Angeles, CA (April 21, 2015) – Rebecca Pidgeon would be the first to blush if you called her an entertainment double-threat, but taking one stage in a two-character play written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet and two hours later performing a musical set of her own self-penned songs in front of a live audience at another – L.A.’s coveted musician’s haven, Hotel Café…is not for the faint of heart.  On May 9th the charismatic artist will most definitely be doubling down – displaying her acting and singing chops in back-to-back performances in venues just blocks from each other.


In fact, mapquest clocks the jaunt from Hollywood’s Theater Asylum – where Pidgeon stars alongside actress Felicity Huffman in David Mamet’s two-character drama The Anarchist at 8 pm – to the popular ‘ Café’ on the northern side of Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, as approximately a 4 minute near-mile – with no traffic.  Rebecca vows to strap on guitar and running shoes post-theater performance and hit the ‘Café ‘stage at 10 pm sharp, welcoming music fans and attendees of The Anarchist, who will be able to use their theater program for the May 9th production to receive one-half off the $10 Admission price for her Hotel Café performance.


Thriving in successful parallel careers as renowned actress and acclaimed singer songwriter, she returns to the theater as part of the new Los Angeles production of The Anarchist, a 70 minute, thought-provoking play written by Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) that originally premiered on Broadway in 2012.  The new production is directed by LA Drama Critics Circle Nominated Director/Producer Marja-Lewis Ryan (One In The Chamber), and also stars Academy Award Nominee Felicity Huffman.  Previews for the play began on April 16, with The Anarchist opening April 24. 


Having maintained a notable music career simultaneously with her film and stage successes, Rebecca’s current musical incarnation includes her band Bad Poetry and her recent album of the same name.  Music & Musicians Magazine described the 11-song effort as an ‘adventurous album…sexy and mysterious…without going over the top…’ 


Acclaimed previous albums like the Grammy nominated Slingshot have also helped garner Rebecca a loyal following.  She has toured extensively with her band throughout the U.S., and snagged high profile L.A. residencies such as the upcoming show at tastemaker venue Hotel Café.  Primed for her May 9th dual-athon, Rebecca comments: “It’s been so rewarding to do The Anarchist with Felicity, as we have known each other for many years.  I’m really lucky to have that same kind of comfort zone with my band Bad Poetry.  It’s my hope that we inspire the  theater audience to follow us down to the Café and see how the other half of me rolls.”


The Anarchist May 9th performance is @8pm, at Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., in Los Angeles.

The May 9th Hotel Café performance begins @10 pm sharp (doors open at 8pm) at 1623 North Cahuenga Blvd, in Los Angeles. 

Audience members who attend the May 9th performance of The Anarchist will be admitted for half price of the $10 admission if they bring their theater programs. 

The Anarchist runs from April 24 – May 23, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays @8pm.

Tickets for The Anarchist:

Tickets for Hotel Café :

For More Information please contact; Tracey Miller, TMA,

Rebecca Pidgeon Gives New Life to David Mamet’s Short-Lived Broadway Play The Anarchist

Pidgeon, Mamet’s wife, stars alongside Felicity Huffman in this Los Angeles production of the two-character drama.

At the tail end of 2012, David Mamet’s new playThe Anarchist premiered on Broadway. Directed by Mamet himself, the production starred Patti LuPone as a longtime prison inmate engaged in a battle of philosophy and wits with a prison official, played by Debra Winger, who could provide her with parole. The 70-minute drama played only a 17-performance run at the John Golden Theatre before inauspiciously closing.

Three years later, The Anarchist is undergoing a small resurgence, in the hands of director Marja-Lewis Ryan at Theatre Asylum in Hollywood. Playing the two characters are actors of just as much note as the Broadway stars, longtime Mamet collaborators Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) as Cathy, the prisoner, and Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet’s wife) as Ann, the warden.

In anticipation of the new production, TheaterMania chatted with Pidgeon about what it’s like to restage The Anarchist, where the original production went wrong, and how helpful (or unhelpful) her husband can be when it comes to rehearsing.

How did this production come to be?
We saw Marja-Lewis Ryan’s play One in the Chamber, which she had written and directed, and we were thrilled by it. She’s a superb young talent. Dave was very excited by her. I think he just thought of [a new production] one morning, because it really didn’t have a run in New York. We were all free at the same time and we were all suddenly rehearsing the play the next day, without any preparation. It was a complete surprise. We blundered into it going, “What is this play about?”

Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon in David Mamet's Boston Marriage at American Repertory Theatre in 1999.
Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon in David Mamet’s Boston Marriage at American Repertory Theatre in 1999.
(© A.R.T.)

How privy to the rehearsal process of the Broadway production were you?
I saw it in rehearsals in Santa Monica, and that’s the performance that really sticks in my mind. I was watching these two actresses [LuPone and Winger] working very closely together and working their way through the meaning of it, and it was really magical.

What went wrong when the show made it to Broadway?
That’s a puzzler. I really don’t know. When I saw it on Broadway, it certainly wasn’t as magical as it was in the rehearsal room. It had lost something and I don’t know why or what. It’s a very, very difficult play. The play has different sections that become clear as you go over it. It has movements, as it were, like a piece of music. It’s [only] seventy minutes long, but it’s a harrowing ride.

Is Mr. Mamet involved with this production?
Not at all. If I ask him a question about the meaning of the line, he says to me, “Rebecca, did you read the play when you agreed to do it?” [laughs] He’s not being at all helpful.

You and Felicity have worked together several times, in addition to being friends. Does that make doing a two-character play like this easier?
We’ve known each other for many years and it’s super fun to be working with her. Walking into a working process and trusting the people you’re working with, especially when it’s just me and Felicity onstage together…It’s nice knowing that we’re rock solid for each other.


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Clara Mamet and Rebecca Pidgeon on Two Bit Waltz

By Michael Dunaway

Screenwriting can be a very tough racket. Aside from the myriad complications in finding a story and producing a rough draft, the long road of revising and honing a script can be a very lonely one, indeed. Fortunately for director Clara Mamet, whose excellent debut film Two Bit Waltz is out now, she had a bit of an inside track on getting good guidance on her writing. Her mother is actress Rebecca Pidgeon, and her father is writer David Mamet.

Wisely, she took advantage of the pair. “We saw various early drafts,” remembers Pidgeon. “She shows us writing along the way. She was working on something really far out there, and then she changed her mind and decided to take inspiration just from our family. Not that that’s exactly what we’re like!”

That was important feedback for the young filmmaker as she began to shape the world she was creating. Viewers will notice a certain kinship to Wes Anderson, but Mamet swears she didn’t have him in mind from the beginning. “It’s interesting,” she says, “when I started making this movie, I didn’t know that this is what it would turn into. I mean, I guess you have that with any movie. But I didn’t really have Wes Anderson in mind, although I do get that a lot. What I do really like about him is the wideness of his shots, which I use as well. That has definitely made an impression on me.”

“And of course my dad’s films have influenced me, too,” she continues, “just in terms of the structure. Structurally his films are all so sound. I’d like to adopt that myself. At some point. I think my biggest problem is that I don’t write any outlines. I just start writing, and it gets a bit messy. And then I have to be like ‘Whoa, what was this about, again?’ And I kind of dial it back in a little bit.”

Mamet also used that time with her mother for more than just advice. “We’d go for walks,” Pidgeon recalls, “and she’d kind of audition me on the fly. She’d say ‘Say this line…’ And I’d say it, and she’d say, ‘Well, how would you do this?’ And I’d say, ‘Are you auditioning me right now? I’m your mother. Stop that. Cut it out.’” And she eventually got the role, in the film as well as in real life.

“And she got to dress me up,” she continues, “which was something she wanted to do all her life. She’d come into the closet when she was little and say ‘Mommy, put this on!’ And she’d give me some sort of gold lame helmet with fishnets and high heels. Always stuff that I couldn’t really wear out for dinner. But in this movie she said, ‘All right. You’re wearing all of this stuff.’”

Still, it didn’t feel strange to Pidgeon. She was able to separate out Clara her director from Clara her daughter. Most of the time. “It was quite natural, “ she maintains, “because she’s an artist, and she has a vision. She really had a quiet authority on that set that everybody was really grateful for. You immediately got the sense that she knew what she was doing. So it was quite interesting for me just to say, ‘Oh, here’s this fantastic, professional young woman, who’s got very useful things to tell me in this scene.’ She’s very simple, and direct. She’s been brought up in our family, so she knows what our process is, as actors and directors. So she just slipped right into that.”

“But you know,” she continues with a smile, “I am her Mom as well, so sometimes there was eye rolling, if I forgot a line or something. A small sigh, and an eye roll, and ‘Let’s take it again, so Mom can get her lines right…’”

But maybe that’s just payback? Was there some eye rolling on Pidgeon’s part, say, when Mamet was in her teen years? “Probably, yeah,” she says with a chuckle.

“It was awesome,” Mamet says. “Totally awesome to boss her around. And she just had to take it, or I would have fired her.”

Pidgeon is also a singer/songwriter of no small acclaim, although she’s arguably better known as an actress in the U.S. But her twin careers have developed on an interesting path in relation to each other. “They sort of started at the same time,” she says. “I was at drama school in London, and I was also making a record with my musical partner, and we started to build up as a band at the same time that my acting career was building. Then there was this sort of break where I got married and transferred everything over to the States and started to work with my husband, Dave. And I began to pursue a career as a solo musician on a much smaller level. And then we had our family, and both things got put a little bit on the back burner. But the acting, I think, was always a little more visible—at least, in this country.”

Once again, her acting and music are moving forward together. “I’ve got this new record out called Bad Poetry, done on my own,” she explains. “The last couple of records, I’ve kind of taken a departure and gone down an edgier musical path. Hearkening back to my early love of punk, a little bit like that.”

She’s experimented with many different processes for songwriting, but collaborating is one of her favorites. “I like to co-write,” she says. “That’s a lovely journey to take. And it gets you out of your own head. It’s more painful and lonely, writing on your own. Although, it can bring great joy too, once you crack the code. But sitting there struggling with yourself is sometimes not much fun.”

I asked her if her songwriting and acting informed each other, or whether they felt like two segregated forms of expression for her. “That’s a good question,” she says, pausing. “I used to think that performing songs was more about presenting a true part of yourself, but now I’m enjoying performing them by experimenting a little bit with character. And I find it’s closer to acting, actually, than I had thought initially. I suppose it does inform my acting. I don’t really know how, but I’m sure it must. It’s a completely different arena, a different journey. Because you’re not leaning back on a text.”

Speaking of leaning back (and, come to think of it, of trust and vulnerability), there’s a scene in Two Bit Waltz where Pidgeon is hanging upside down from a tree in a full-on white Victorian dress. But it’s all movie magic, I was disappointed to learn. “That was a hard part to do actually,” Mamet says. “She’s not actually hanging from the tree. We had to CGI out a ladder. And we had to strap her legs down. But she was a good sport.”

So does Mamet have the CGI bug now? Will her next film be a sci-fi epic? “Kind of, actually,” she answers cryptically. “It’s funny that you say that. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a trilogy.”

I can’t really tell if she’s joking. Who knows, maybe we will get that “far out there” story Pidgeon teased. But after Two Bit Waltz, viewers will be ready to go wherever Clara Mamet wants to take them.

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Young Hollywood – ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Rebecca Pidgeon

Haven’t heard of Rebecca Pidgeon yet? Well, you’re behind. Take yourself to YouTube right now and get educated!


Born in Massachusetts and raised in Scotland, Rebecca Pidgeon is a singer-songwriter who is making her mark in the entertainment industry with her 8th solo album, BAD POETRY, which was released this week!


She got her big break in 1986 when she sang on a demo recording cut by her guitarist friend Roger Fife and attracted the attention of the tiny independent label Red Flame. She later became the lead singer for British folk rock/pop band Ruby Blue, which she stayed with for a few years. Around that same time, she made her feature film debut in The Dawning (1988) and eventually co-starred in the London premiere of acclaimed playwright David Mamet‘s Speed-the-Plow (1988), later becoming his wife! What a cool story to tell their children, right? In fact, her daughter with Mamet is actress Clara Mamet, whom we interviewed on the set of her show “The Neighbors”!


Pidgeon has been recently turning heads because of her super dark lyrics and bright vocals. Rolling Stone, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and The New Yorker are just some of the media outlets who have been praising her for her work.


Singles such as “Love is Cocaine” (obsessed with this one) and “Perfect Stranger” are featured on her new album. But that’s not the only thing she’s been working on lately… Her newest film project, Two Bit Waltz, is hitting theatres next month.

Read the entire article here

Housing Works Hosts Benefit Concert with Rebecca Pidgeon

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor

On April 18, British singer/songwriter Rebecca Pidgeon will present “Live From Home: An Evening with Rebecca Pidgeon,” a benefit concert for Housing Works, an organization that raises funds for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. The event will be followed by a conversation and Q&A led by Clara Mamet of “The Neighbors” fame, to discuss Pidgeon’s new album, “Blue Dress On.”

“It’s the first time I’ve produced my own album since I was a kid,” says Pidgeon, a veteran recording artist who co-produced “Blue Dress On” with guitarist Tim Young. “Not since Ruby Blue.”

“Blue Dress On” takes a marked turn from her acclaimed 2012 album “Slingshot.” The British singer-songwriter and stage and screen actress sees the 13-track set as charting a new direction while at the same time returning her to her musical roots in Ruby Blue, an English folk rock/pop band active in the late ’80s/early ’90s.

Pidgeon left the group in 1990, to further a solo career and pursue an acting career, and to be with playwright David Mamet, whom she married in 1991 after starring in his play “Speed-the-Plow” at London’s National Theatre.

Her solo recording career commenced in 1994 with the release of her solo debut album “The Raven.” “Slingshot” was her sixth solo effort, and she considered it a creative breakthrough.

“I reached a point where I felt I had to take my singing more seriously and really make a 100 percent commitment to it, instead of saying this is something I do that’s not acting,” Pidgeon, said at the time. “I finally said to myself, ’I am a singer.’”

Although the deeply melodic “Slingshot” was centered on Pidgeon’s ideas of “simplicity, air and space,” she takes a different tack in “Blue Dress On.”

“It sounds a bit more live, like a band,” she said, “more electric and rough around the edges. I was on the road quite a bit last year with Tim supporting Marc Cohn and ’Slingshot,’” she continues. “But I’m always creating, thinking about the next record, mulling it over and collecting songs and thinking about where I want to go with it. For this one, I wanted to have a different kind of sound than the more gentle sounds on Slingshot, and I got a bit more experimental, with sounds like those on the indie sound records I grew up with — Adam and the Ants, Siouxsie and the Banshees, early Kate Bush — that kind of British indie sound.”

Hear all about it when 19-year-old actress Mamet moderates this Q&A with Pidgeon about her new album, including the final cover song co-written by David Batteau and David Mamet, who penned a “talk-verse.”

The event will raise funds for Housing Works, a volunteer-run organization that donates 100 percent of profits to provide housing, healthcare, job training and advocacy.

“Live From Home: An Evening with Rebecca Pidgeon,” will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 18 at Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St. btw Houston and Prince St. Tickets are $15 and available at

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American Songwriter: From Shadows Into the Sun With Rebecca Pidgeon

Written by Paul Zollo

he’s got a lot of questions. Not unlike an actor researching a role, she responds to my craft questions often with queries of her own. Of course, she is an actor – a famous one – and she studied acting a lot before ever writing songs. In fact, the first time she did try writing a song, she said, she did so by acting out the part of a songwriter. She got in character, and she followed through.

Though the sun is blazing full-force outside, here inside the Hotel Café in Hollywood, it is dark. Hours before music will commence, the only light is that of her cellphone, softly illuminating her face as she reads texts from her daughter, laughing.

It’s a face I recognize, even in this shadowland, as I’ve loved her for years in movies. She’s famous as that beautiful, mysterious actress that so many of us fell in love with in David Mamet movies such as The Spanish Prisoner and Heist. Mamet also fell in love with her: Married since 1991, they have two children, Clara and Noah.

She’s acted in his movies and his plays, and in other movies and TV shows – while also maintaining a vital and concurrent career as a songwriter-singer. The leader of the British band Ruby Blue from 1986 to about 1990, she left to pursue movie work. But soon she was back inside the music, and in 1994 released a beautiful solo album of originals, The Four Marys, which she followed with a collection of Celtic folk songs. She’s got a gentle, understated sweetness to her voice and a winning way with hypnotic rhythms that is always compelling. Greatness abounded on Tough On Crime, which emerged in 2005 with the great Walter Becker, from Steely Dan, on guitar, and the late great Billy Preston on organ. Simmering grooves, fluid soul, smart & crafty songs that soar in many directions at once. She’s the real deal.

When she isn’t singing her own originals, she often performs unique takes on famous songs, such as “Spanish Harlem,” the Phil Spector- Jerry Leiber standard that was used in her husband’s movie about the infamous record producer, Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino as the infamous producer. Her great take on Brian Wilson’s “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” reduces it to its purest form, like a laser beam of melody, showing us where the source is under all those harmonies. And when she takes on Warren Zevon’s “Searching For A Heart,” she brings in so much gentle affection to this delicate play of romantic yearning that even Zevon would swoon.

She and Mamet met while she was acting in his play Speed-the-Plow during its run at the National Theatre. Evidently a true muse for him, he cast her in a succession of his plays and movies, including The Spanish Prisoner (1997), The Winslow Boy (1999), State and Main (2000), and Heist (2001). For Mamet’s 2008 movie Redbelt, she had a small role and also performed the music in it.

In addition to their cinematic and theatrical collaborations, they have also collaborated on songs. He is, she said without any reservation, an excellent songwriter. “Different than me,” she said with a smile. “We have different musical tastes. But very good.”

Upon meeting Mamet at a show in L.A. by his friend, the legendary magician Ricky Jay, I waited as fans paid their respects before taking the opportunity to tell him I was a fan of his songwriting. He laughed, and said, “You’re the first person ever to say that to me.”

She was born to English parents in 1965 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and grew up Stateside at first while her father, Carl R. Pidgeon, was a visiting professor at MIT. Then in 1970, the family moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she fell in love with Celtic folk music. She always loved music, singing it, listening to it, dancing to it. But she wanted to act, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, landing several roles in English theater.

Today after our shadowy talk, she kindly agrees to be photographed, although this requires stepping outside into the sunny alleyway behind the venue, where many fans are already lined up for the evening show. Several call her name upon seeing her, and she waves, gently, from a distance, gracious but vigilant. Afterwards she signs two autographs, smiles at those seeking to photograph her with their phones, and steps back into the shadows till showtime. “One must be careful not to give away too much, you know? But also not to keep too much within. There’s always that fine line,” she explains, adjusting the dynamics. “You want people to like you, of course. But not too much.”

When did you start writing songs?

I was 20 when I started writing really. I was at drama college. Got together with a friend. And this friend and I sung together and played at parties. We thought we’d get something together to send off to record companies. So we sat down and the way I started writing was that I imagined what a songwriter would do, and what I would quite like to listen to. Never thinking of myself as a songwriter.

Which songwriters were you thinking of?

At that time I was probably thinking of Joni Mitchell. And on the other end of the spectrum, Siouxsie, of Siouxsie & The Banshees. Kate Bush as well.

Growing up, did you have musical heroes?

Growing up, of course, it was The Beatles in my family. Not so much The Stones. Some Dylan. Then Neil Young. It was all the American crew. I was born in the States – my dad was working at MIT – and my parents got into the American folk thing, and The Beatles.

You grew up in Boston?

I grew up in Cambridge till I was six, and then we lived in Edinburgh in Scotland. But when I got married, I came full circle and came back to Boston. And we lived there for ten years, in the South End of Boston. I love Boston.

You’re a gifted actor. And not a whole lot of songwriters are good actors. Is the craft of acting wholly different from songwriting?

I used to think they were very different. Now I realize they’re more similar than I thought. Dave [Mamet] writes as a character – in song and other work – and that is difficult for me to take on. But I find when I allow myself to write from a character point-of-view, it’s quite freeing for me. And that’s similar to acting.

I have found that as well, whereas I used to think writing in a character would be restrictive, in fact it gives you license to say things and do things you would not do. It is freeing.

Yes, and you can go to an emotional place that’s something quite powerful. I’m moving towards that more in my more recent work.

When you choose other people’s songs to sing, you choose very interesting covers. I loved your version of “Spanish Harlem.”

I don’t know why I chose that one. I loved it and didn’t know who wrote it, I didn’t know the Phil Spector connection. I chose it and liked singing it. And then, ironically, Dave ended up writing this movie about Phil Spector, and we used the song in it.

Your version of the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is wonderful.

That was the idea of [producer] Larry Klein. At first I balked. I thought, “A Beach Boys iconic masterpiece? Really?” But he talked me into it.

Your rendition is so pure – their version is all about all those voices in harmony, and yours is about the melody.

Yes. That was Larry’s genius.

And you did Warren Zevon’s beautiful “Searching For A Heart.”

I love that song. That was Larry’s find. Larry and Warren had been very close, and wrote some songs together. I didn’t know much about [Zevon] except hearing “Werewolves of London” on the radio as a kid. So Larry thought of that song for me. But one nice thing I heard about Warren is that The Spanish Prisoner was a favorite film of his. He is a great writer, truly one of the best American songwriters. He doesn’t get the full acclaim he deserves, yet he’s as great as Tom Waits and Randy Newman.

I agree. You wrote “Sweet Hand of Mercy” with David Batteau and Larry Klein. How did that start?

That started with an idea David had. Usually I have an idea to start with of my own. He and I have a lovely simpatico together. His resonances speak to me, and I think he feels the same about my work. He is the person I can collaborate best with.

Do you usually start with words?

Usually. Some time it starts with sort of a jam, and I think I have to do something with that. But then it’s a bit tougher if there’s not an idea first, an angle or something I want to say. What do you think? How do you usually start?

I usually start with words, often with a title. I am surprised by people who start with no lyrical ideas at all. Randy Newman said he almost always starts with pure music.

Really? That is surprising. Yes, I find a title is a great way to start a song. I haven’t done it that way for a long time. Dave used to give me titles. I should try that again, cause that’s an evocative way to start. Thank you for reminding me.

Zevon always liked a good title.

Yes. “Werewolves of London.”

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You’ve written several songs with your husband, Mr. Mamet.

Yes we wrote “Baby, Please Come Home.” We wrote that a while ago. And we wrote a new one on my new album.

He’s a great writer, as the world already knows. But is he a good songwriter?

Yes, he’s a wonderful songwriter. His style is very different from mine. Much more classic blues. He writes music and words. He writes very male lyrics. Kind of Randy Newman-esque, as you might expect. He writes in character.

People think any writer can write a song, but songwriting, it’s –

It’s hard. It is. It’s hard, I find, to write a song I’m happy with.

Do you play your songs for him when they are done?

I do.

Is he a tough critic?

Yeah. Sometimes he’ll say, “That’s really not my style, but off you go.” [Laughs] But he doesn’t say, “Oh God, don’t do that.” I mean, we do have different tastes in music.

I imagine it can be challenging when two artists are together.

It’s not really challenging, no. It works. Thank God it’s not challenging.

Do you find there is any time that’s better for writing? Does anything affect what allows a good one to happen?

Don’t you find that when a good one happens, it’s sort of easier than the others? It happens faster?

Yes. Though I know some writers distrust ones that come too fast and easy.

Oh. Interesting. That gives me hope, because most of my songs, they don’t come fast. [Laughs] And when is a good time for me to write? I don’t write all the time, I wish I did. I have to really focus all my attention on it. And I have a lot of other things to do in my life. My family, I have to look after them. I have two kids. I got a cuddle from both of them today. Joy.

Clara is 18, just about to move out. She wrote, directed and acted in a movie. Two Bit Waltz. It is really good. She’s it. She’s a filmmaker. She’s amazing. And Noah is 14. And big into beautiful presents.

You wrote “Lonely Place” with Freedy Johnston?

Yes. We got together. I love him. I came to him with the seeds of this song and said, “Let’s do it.” And we knocked it out in a day. We also wrote “I Loved No One.” Same thing. It was funny. It was like a successful blind date. I walked into a room with him. We had never met before. And we made a song. We have to do it again. But we live in different places.

It is like a date, writing a song. It’s intimate. It can be a good date, or not. You have to really be careful of the feelings of the other.

Actors usually bring a lot of subtext to their characters, that you know a lot more than we never see. Do you approach songs like that as well – is there subtext there?

That helps. Sometimes you know more than the songs tells you, and that is good. That informs the work. Sometimes you don’t, and it remains mysterious.

I used to think one had to be so true in a song, for the song to succeed. But one really doesn’t have to be so true. One can imagine things, and slip into that persona and be true about the emotions that you imagine.

Sure. You can fudge the facts to make the song work.

Exactly! The most important thing is the song. If you have to make it that you’re bereft in the song, so be it. Or desperate. Or happy even! Whatever you need, that is what you need. Whatever works best works best. Each song is different.


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Rebecca Pidgeon: This singer-songwriter thrives straddling the worlds of theater and music

Few artists have the talent to sustain two successful careers at once. so credit Rebecca Pidgeon for doing just that, gaining fame as a well-respected singer- songwriter and as an acclaimed actress.

“it really was quite accidental,” says Pidgeon, who was born in Cambridge, Mass., but raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. soon after graduating London’s royal academy of Dramatic art she began her dual career acting and singing. “the music thing began happening between acting jobs, and both careers took off at the same time,” says Pidgeon, 48. “Because the two worlds are so distinct, it’s not until a wider notoriety is achieved that people join the dots. i had two separate lives—and i came to lead both of them.”

Pidegon was the lead singer in the British folk-pop band ruby Blue until leaving in 1990. “My then-musical partner sent some demos to various record companies, and by the time we made a record, got a band together and wrote more material, we ended up on a major label,” she recalls.

with seven solo albums, including a soundtrack, under her belt, Pidgeon is now releasing her eighth effort, Blue Dress On, which she produced with guitarist and keyboardist tim Young.

although Pidgeon’s signature sound typically veers toward adult pop, the new record marks a creative shift. “i wanted to have a rougher edge,” she says. “i wanted it to reflect more of the music i grew up with—bands that had a dramatic edge and a raw guitar sound, like siouxsie and the Banshees, the sex Pistols, Joy Division. there’s something about the chord progression in British music that appeals to me. i grew up with it, and it still resonates with me.”

Pidgeon’s musical career has led her to work with veteran producers larry Klein and Joel Diamond and songwriters David Batteau and Mark Goldenberg. her acting resume reflects the many film, television and stage productions she’s taken on—some written and directed by her husband, acclaimed Pulitzer Prize– winning playwright, author, screenwriter and film director David Mamet. the two were married in 1991 after they met during the london run of his play Speed-the-Plow, which featured Pidgeon in a major role.

the couple’s collaboration isn’t limited to the set or stage, and they frequently make music together, their latest effort being the title track of her new album. “we’re most successful when i go to him

with a song and ask him to fix the lyrics,” says the mother of two teens. “But he’ll often present me with a finished lyric and i’ll try to come up with the right setting for it. on my first album, The Raven, he gave me a love poem, which i set to music. he’s a wonderful musician himself, but he comes from different traditions than i do. he’s brilliant with tin Pan alley songs and the Great American songbook. he plays piano very well, and he’s much better with music theory than i am.”

Pidgeon’s new record also reflects a shift on the business side. her previous album was released on a major label, but Pidgeon has decided to go the indie route, issuing Blue Dress On through her own toy Canteen label. “Fortunately, i’m an ignoramus,” she jokes. “I’m blindly going around doing what i do and trying to give birth to this thing in whatever way i can.

“sometimes you do say to yourself, ‘oh God, what’s the point? i might as well just give up.’ But then i think, what’s the point of giving up? i might as well just do this despite the challenges. it’s a choice i’ve made, but i’ve been lucky, and in the end, i’ll keep doing it until i can’t anymore.”

–Lee Zimmerman

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New video directed by Clara Mamet gets national attention (November 19, 2013) Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and actress Rebecca Pidgeon releases the single “Feathers” from her new album BLUE DRESS ON. Pidgeon co-wrote the song with David Batteau and says it’s one of the springing points of the new album. “It’s a love song featuring an erhu—a Chinese stringed instrument—but with more of a Celtic sound,” she says. “We initially made these little demos, and this track we used quite a bit as a demo. People started commenting on how much they liked the song so we thought it would be a great first single.

” The corresponding video directed by Clara Mamet: is quickly getting national attention. Mamet, the daughter of Pidgeon and Pulitzer Prize winning writer/director David Mamet says she wanted the opportunity to work with her mother. “I liked the melody and the simplicity of the song,” says Mamet. “And thought it would be fun to do something with my mom.” Video credits also include Jeff Cohn as the DP (Director of Photography), and Barbara Tulliver as editor.

“Feathers” is the first single from Blues Dress On, a 13 track album produced by Pidgeon and guitarist Tim Young. Her seventh studio recording, the album also includes “Sailors Marriage” and “Come Up to My Room”. Listen here

Originally the lead singer for the British folk rock/pop band Ruby Blue, Pidgeon, known for her dark lyrics and bright vocals, has been touted by Rolling Stone Magazine as “one of those rare singers who convey emotion purely…” and in an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s  talks about her approach to songwriting.

Her solo recording career commenced in 1994 with the release of her solo debut album The Raven. Her last release Slingshot (in 2012) was her sixth solo effort, and she considered it a creative breakthrough. “I reached a point where I felt I had to take my singing more seriously and really make a 100% commitment to it, instead of saying this is something I do that’s not acting,” Pidgeon, said at the time. “I finally said to myself, ‘I am a singer.’”

Slingshot garnered a Grammy nomination and had her performing at Farm Aid alongside Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp and headlining the Wine, Women & Song Concert Series. In the past year, Rebecca has toured with noted artists Marc Cohn and Keb Mo and shared the stage with Aimee Mann, Madeleine Peyroux, Stephen Kellogg ,Rusted Root and Jeffrey Gaines, to name a few. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate continues to juggle her musical and extremely successful acting careers. She has been featured in several films including “Red,” alongside Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman and most recently appeared in the 2013 Emmy nominated HBO biopic Phil Spector alongside Al Pacino and Helen Mirren. The film featured Rebecca’s version of the Spector penned “Spanish Harlem” 

Rebecca Pidgeon will be performing in LA at Hotel Café on December 20. She heads out on a national tour with Marc Cohn in January 2014. For more information and tour dates please visit you can also follow Rebecca on twitter @rebeccapidgeon

Media contact: Tracey Miller, TMA, 609-383-2323, ext.11/

REBECCA PIDGEON takes flight

Cover Story

REBECCA PIDGEON takes flight


Rebecca Pidgeon is sitting barefoot on a leather couch in her Santa Monica home, a guitar in one hand and a dog biscuit in the other. The sunny room is filled with things she loves: Books. Photographs of her husband, Pulitzer-prize winning writer-director David Mamet and their two children Noah, 14 and Clara, 18. A quirky collection of porcelain dogs. A sign that says “Cash Bar.” And the family poodle Queenie — named after a math-loving character in Patrick O’Brian’s nautical historical novels — next to her feet waiting for a treat. “My husband said to me the other day, ‘You know Rebecca, I’ve been with you for 22 years and you’re still fascinating to me. I have no idea what is going on in your head!’,” she says. “I replied, ‘Well, my darling, I’m so glad you have no idea because it’s probably much more simple than you think.’”

She might be right, but simple is hardly the way to describe Rebecca. An acclaimed actress — she’s had roles in many of Mamet’s films including The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main and most recently HBO’s Emmy-nominated Phil Spector — she’s also a recording artist with a career that spans more than 20 years. Her 2012 album Slingshot, produced by the legendary Larry Klein, garnered rave reviews and a Grammy nomination. Now, with her seventh solo album Blue Dress On, she’s delivered yet another stunning set of tunes. “I’ve always had the impulse to want to explore different worlds,” says Rebecca. “It’s that impulse that propels me into both acting and songwriting. You have to let yourself go completely and it’s really fun.”

What keeps her grounded is her family. Her marriage to Mamet is one of those happy collaborations where two creative minds meet and allow each other to flourish. The couple first met in 1990 when Rebecca was acting in his play Speed-the-Plow in London and they’ve worked together frequently since. Mamet has even helped his wife write a few lyrics. But it’s Rebecca’s imagination and quirky wit that shines through in her songs. The result is music that’s delightful, elusive, often bittersweet and more than a little bit magical.

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