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Author Topic: Arthur Miller has died  (Read 3952 times)
Kerry Christianson

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« on: February 11, 2005, 07:57:30 AM »

An American theater legend has passed.  Any good memories people want to share about experiences with his plays?

"Where are we going?!?"
"Planet 10!"
"Real Soon!"
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai
Robert Rousseau

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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2005, 01:56:47 PM »

I was in college in the NE when I saw the Broadway version of "Death of a Salesman" w/Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich (as Biff), and Charles Durning (as Charlie) in 1983 or 84.  I'd never read the play before then, but I had a general idea that Willy Loman was an older man, and alot of my focus going in was on whether Hoffman could make me believe he was a 65ish year old man.

Hoffman did- easily- and the rest of the cast was also excellent (I'd seen John Malkovich already in "True West", so it was particularly interesting to see him as Biff shortly thereafter)- but I was most of all blown away by the play itself.  Great drama to me often contains a basic device of someone cornered- back up against the wall, and Willy Loman was certainly that.    But interestingly, Loman was in that corner in part by his own choosing: what really tortured him was that he wasn't a "success" on the scale he had dreamed of being in his youth (a successful salesman "well liked" by many), regardless that he had a wife that loved him and a friend willing to offer him a comfortable job off the road.     Willy Loman couldn't tolerate being 'a dime a dozen'.  In the end, we see his son Biff have a personal triumph by shrugging off the mantle of great expectations foisted on him by his family, and embrace his own ordinariness.  Of course, that Biff has the epiphany that he is likely to be happiest dropping out of the rat race of the pursuit of material success that his father and brother are dedicated to and doing what he actually wants to do indicates that he is in fact NOT 'a dime a dozen'.    The "bohemian" ideal of doing what will make you happiest even if it means rejecting the cow path  must've been an eye opener for the audiences that saw the play in its first staging in 1948 or 49.    It was almost another 20 years before that concept was embraced on a large scale by the youth of America.

I'm looking forward to Aimee Bruneau's staging of "Salesman" at the Capitol Hill Arts Center beginning on March 31st.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2005, 09:02:50 PM by Robert David Rousseau » Logged

Kate Kraay
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2005, 04:47:00 PM »

What a Giant.  I wish I had been around to see the premeire of "Salesman" with Lee Cobb.  After that show, there were men wandering around dazed out of the theater, creating traffic problems.  That's how well he had his finger on the pulse, just as he did with "All My Sons".  And of course, "The Crucible" which is arguably the American contribution to playwrighting, written by a man who refused to name names, was blacklisted, and actually did something about about his rage towards Mcarthyism, creating something timeless.  A play we should be producing right now.

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