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A CurtainUp Feature
An Overview of Arthur Miller's Career
by Elyse Sommer
Arthur Miller died on February 10, 2005. Asked in a 1986 conversation with Mel Gussow: "Do you ever think about what your legacy would be? " he replied, "Some good parts for actors." He will always be remembered by the many actors who played those good parts and the audiences who saw the plays written to " deal with essential dilemmas of what it means to be human."
Trademarks Of Miller's Plays
Plays Reviewed and Books
Quotes From Miller Plays
Arthur Miller has lived long enough to become one of the theater world's living legends, the sort of committed citizen playwright for whom the theater is a vehicle for enlightenment and social consciousness raising.
Now in his ninth decade he is indeed enjoying what Alex Comfort called "a good old age" While not much performed on Broadway for a number of years, he has enjoyed great popularity in England and other parts of the world. In 1996, the Williamstown Theatre Festival presented the American premiere of The Ride Down Mt. Morgan which opened in London in 1991 (see review link below) and, since it was the 50th anniversary of All My Sons, (see review link below) that play was revived in a concurrent run at the Festival's smaller stage. Interestingly, the revival became a bigger hit than the new play ( in the larger theater so that many people had to be turned away. The following season, this production, practically intact, became one of the outstanding events of the Roundabout Theater's season (review links below). A revised, re-staged and recast version of The Ride Down Mt. Morgan opened at the Public Theater in November 1998 (see link)
Miller is the playwright to whom the Signature Theater is dedicating its 1997-98 season. As the first of the Signature's Miller plays, The American Clock (see review link below) drew to a close, the Roundabout prepared to follow up its success with All My Sons with a revival of A View From the Bridge. (see review links) With another lesser known Miller play, The Last Yankee slated for January at the Signature (plus two more plays to follow) you can understand why Miller, like Chekhov, ( Our Chekhov Page) warrants his own niche in the CurtainUp library.
(all theaters unless otherwise stated, Broadway theaters).
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Trademarks Of Miller's Plays
In an interview after his first big success (All My Sons), Miller declared that "In all my plays and books I try to take settings and dramatic situations from life which involve real questions of right and wrong." Following are key dramatic devices used to achieve this mission:
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Links To Plays We Have Reviewed and Books You Might Want to Read
Reviews:This list of Arthur Miller's plays we've reviewed since launching CurtainUp is not frozen and we will add to it periodically.
Broken Glass (London 2011)
Incident at Vichy (Actors Company, 2009)
View From the Bridge(Broadway 2010)
A View From the Bridge (London 2009)
A View From the Bridge(Roundabout 1997)
Some Kind of Love Story(Los Angeles 2008)
After the Fall(Broadway-2004)
After the Fall(Los Angeles)
The Crucible (Broadway Revival)
The Crucible (Hartford Stage 2011)
The Crucible (Steppenwolf-Chicago, 2007)
The Creation of the World and Other Business
The Man Who Had All the Luck (New York)
The Man Who Had All the Luck (2008 London)
The Price in the Berkshires and NY
All My Sons (Barrington Stage 2012)
All My Sons/ Arthur Miller(London 2010)
All My Sons (2008 Broadway Revival)
All My Sons in NY and London
The American Clock
Conversations With Miller/Gussow, Mel
Death of a Salesmanr(Broadway 2012)
Death Of a Salesman Salesman --- Second Thoughts
Death Of a Salesman (London-2005)
Resurrection Blues (Philadelphia)
Resurrection Blues (London)
The Ride Down Mt. Morgan in the Berkshires and NY
Mr. Peter's Connections
A View From the Bridge and Second Thoughts
The Last Yankee& I Can't Remember Anything (with Joseph Chaikin)
Books: Miller's plays and other writings are widely anthologized . This is a selection of the ones we think fans and students would find most
Conversations With Miller by Mel Gussow
The Portable Arthur Miller. Penguin, 1995, 575 pp. This update of an earlier edition was compiled by the playwright and Christopher Bigsby, a Miller scholar. It's a good cross-section of Miller's 60-year career. Included in full are The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, and Broken Glass; also unpublished early works and a newly found radio play.
A View From the Bridge. Viking paperback, 1987. With the play enjoying one of its most dynamic productions ever at the Roundabout, (see link to reviewed plays above), we included this for people who like to read a play before or after seeing a play as well as those who for one reason or another can't get to this revival.
The Last Yankee: With a New Essay About Theatre Language. Penguin paperback, 98 pp, 1994.Not one of Miller's best-known plays but we've included it since it's the second Miller play to be featured in the Signature Theater's 1997-98 season.
Timebends : A Life. Penguin, 1995. This is the paperback edition of Miller's very readable autobiography. It moves from his childhood at the edge of Harlem through his life and career, failures and successes-- and includes plenty of portraits of famous people who played walk-on and major parts in his life; to name just a few: Marilyn Monroe, Orson Welles, Lucky Luciano, Clark Gable, Tennessee Williams, John F. Kennedy, Mikhail Gorbachev. . . Penguin Audio Book edition (2 Cassettes).
The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller Da Capo (paperback), 1996. This reprint edition is packed with a wealth of essays including "Tragedy and the Common Man," "The Nature of Tragedy". . ." Salesman Has a Birthday". . . "Many Writers: Few Plays". . . "Journey to The &"The American Theater&". . ."On Social Plays". . ."The Family in Modern Drama". Also included are the introduction to the original edition (by Robert A. Martin), this expanded Edition (by Steven R. Centola) and a foreword by the playwright titled "Sorting Things Out." A good value.
Arthur Miller in Conversation. Contemporary Research Press, paperback, 1993. This lengthy interview between Steve Centola and Arthur Miller provides the playwright with ample opportunity to voice his views on playwriting, the state of the theater and the acting profession. Centola is clearly an admirer and a fine interviewer. The title isn't likely to be found in your neighborhood book store but it is available to those prepared to wait for their order to be filled.
Homely Girl, a Life : And Other Stories. Penguin paperback, 128 pp, 1997. In his long conversation with Stephen Centola, Miller spoke about his disaffection with playwriting and intention to do more fiction. This collection of short stories, is newly anthologized but not newly written. The stories are worth reading but it should be noted that writers who've built their reputation on the short story (i.e. Pritchett) or short stories and novels (Updike) tend to focus for many years on these particular forms. Thus, this book is more interesting for showing another side of Miller, than as a launching point for a short-story writing career. When you think of Miller, it's still going to be in terms of his plays.
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Quotes From Miller Plays
A little man makes a mistake and they hang him by the thumbs; the big ones become ambassadors
--Joe Keller in Act 2, All My Sons.
Once and for all you must know that there's a universe of people outside, and you're responsible to it. --Chris Keller (to his mother) in Act 3, All My Sons
Since God made everything, and God is Good, why did he make Lucifer?---Arthur Miller
He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person
-- Linda Loman, Act 1, Death of a Salesman.
You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away--a man is not a piece of fruit!
Willy, Act 2, Death of a Salesman.
(A Salesman) He's a man way out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back--that's an earthquake!
Charley, Requiem, Death of a Salesman.
There are times when you want to spread an alarm, but nothing has happened —-Alfieri, A View from the Bridge, Act 1.
The only thing you can do today without a license is you'll go up the elevator and jump out the window --Gregory Solomon in The Price, Act 1 Solomon, the character who brings the play its light touch, thus amplifies his statement that he is both registered and licensed as an appraiser
He allowed himself to be wholly known --Alfieri in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Act 2.