* Theory * Part III. Playscript * Am Drama * * amazon.com *
Williams: Humanity is just a work in progress.
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Memory and Dramatic Form in Death of a Salesman Peter Szondi:
Arthur Miller's evolution from imitator to innovator, which occurred between the publication of his first two works, is the clearest example of that general change in style that both unites and separates the turn-of the-century dramatists and those of the present: the emergence out of dramatic form of a new formal structure for those epic elements that had previously only been given thematic expression. If this process, which is central to the developmental history of the modern theater, has, up to this point, been presented mainly in terms of comparison between the two periods, by contrasting Ibsen and Pirandello, Chekhov and Wilder, Hauptmann and Brecht, in Miller's case, as with Strindberg's earlier, it can be illuminated by the works of a single author.
THR 215 Images: Periods & Styles [ taken out ]
VIRTUAL THEATRE Subtitle: "Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and A Requiem"
Willy Loman -- "low man"? Willy, not Bill.
Wife -- Linda!
Sons: Biff & Happy
..."Before us is the Salesman's house."
American Dream and American Tragedy, or American Dream = American Tragedy?
"... We're free and clear. We're free. We're free... We're free..."
Money, work and freedom for self-slavery
Death of a Salesman: Tragic Myth in the Modern Theatre -- Perhaps the dominant theme in the drama of the twentieth century is an attempt to recover" or, more precisely, to restate" a tragic apprehension about the human condition. A pervasive concern about the ultimate meaning of human suffering is reflected, in one way or another, in the work of all of the major playwrights of the twentieth century: in that of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw, Claudel, Synge, Lorca, and O'Neill, as well as in that of Pirandello, Brecht, Sartre, Camus, and more recently, Wilder, Williams, Beckett, Genet, Albee, and others.
[ in Bloom ]
2002: I do not know how much from the 20th century we can cover in DramLit; Pirandello, Lorca (should I drop O'Neil this time?), Brecht (Mother Courage), Williams (The Glass Managerie), Miller, Beckett, Shepard (Buried Child), Pinter (Betrayal), Mamet (Oleanna) [Kushner in THR413]. The Bedford Drama (too much already). What about Fornes (Conduct of Life) and August Wilson?
What is American drama?2004 -- Bergman & Kurosawa (main stage)
Summary"A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself." --Arthur Miller
QuestionsWilly Loman and The Soul of a New Machine: Technology and the Common Man Richard T. Brucher (Bloom)
As Death of a Salesman opens, Willy Loman returns home "tired to the death." Lost in reveries about the beautiful countryside and the past, he's been driving off the road; and now he wants a cheese sandwich. But Linda's suggestion that he try a new American-type cheese—"It's whipped"—irritates Willy: "Why do you get American when I like Swiss?" His anger at being contradicted unleashes an indictment of modern industrialized America:
The street is lined with cars. There's not a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood. The grass don't grow any more, you can't raise a carrot in the back yard.In the old days, "This time of year it was lilac and wisteria." Now: "Smell the stink from that apartment house! And another one on the other side." But just as Willy defines the conflict between nature and industry, he pauses and simply wonders: "How can they whip cheese?"
The clash between the old agrarian ideal and capitalistic enterprise is well documented in the literature on Death of a Salesman, as is the spiritual shift from Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Carnegie to Dale Carnegie that the play reflects. The son of a pioneer inventor and the slave to broken machines, Willy Loman seems to epitomize the victim of modern technology. But his unexpected, marvelingly innocent question about whipping cheese reveals an ambivalence toward technology livelier and more interesting (and perhaps truer to the American character) than a simple dichotomy between farm and factory, past and present. Death of a Salesman engages an audience's attitudes toward technology: fear of the new and unfamiliar; marvel at progress; and the need, finally, to accommodate technology to cultural mythologies by subordinating it to personality. Willy's contradictions clearly indicate his alienation, but they recall Walt Whitman, too (that other restless Brooklynite who could sing enthusiastically of leaves of grass, lilacs, and locomotives in winter). "Do I contradict myself?" Whitman asks near the end of Song of Myself; "Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)"
[ and - Death of a Salesman as Psychomachia (Bloom) ]
NotesDramlit 2004: Pirandello, then Brecht and only after them -- O'Neill > Williams and Miller!
Arthur Miller @ Amazon *
Theatre on the Web:
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and the American Dream William Heyen (Bloom):
Nothing about Death of a Salesman, once I step away from it, strikes me as quite believable, quite intelligent, quite intelligible, quite interesting. Characters, plot, even the language that so often falls into the poetry of romantic clich¨¦, will not quite bear scrutiny. Reviewing the play in 1949, one irritated critic [ Eleanor Clark] objected to its "speciousness." "The play," this reviewer said, "with its peculiar hodge-podge of dated materials and facile new ones, is . . . an ambitious piece of confusionism, such as in any other sphere would probably be called a hoax, and which has been put across by purely technical skills not unlike those of a magician or an acrobat." A hoax! Now, this is pretty strong and pretty silly. But, once I give the play some distance, almost everything about it irritates me or makes me laugh. But Salesman is much more than the sum of its parts. Once the curtains part, a flute begins to play and I am caught up in the poverty and dream and bitter bliss of the Lomans.
There is no question but that the play is elusive. As Miller himself has said, " Death of a Salesman is a slippery play to categorize because nobody in it stops to make a speech objectively stating the great issues which I believe it embodies." The play does not mirror, or reflect, or state; it embodies, and often puts us at a loss to enunciate the ideas and feelings it calls forth. That's the thing about Salesman: it reverberates, echoes, resonates. Its rhythms roll deep down toward and into American desires and delusions. Fear, pity, a sense of loss for what might have been, a qualified joy for Willy's happiness as he commits suicide¡ªthese are the inescapable and elusive feelings experienced during the play. There are a hundred ways to see the play, as Miller himself knew, bogus ways and true ways. We can smile when Miller tells us that as one audience left the play he heard a man, probably a salesman, tell another that New England always was a lousy territory. But something about the play strikes deep now, and did in 1949, and will. This something is the poetry of the play, not something that can be isolated in particulars, but the way the whole play ranges out from its center which is Willy, the way it echoes far past its own American images, the way it demands a hearing for its own sentimentality and exaggeration. The great issues the play embodies are human issues brought to a focal point on the American continent. We've had enough formal criticism of Salesman, and I have little or nothing to add of that. But I want to tell how the play feels and smells and looks to me. To do this I've got to range all over and throw out nets and come up with whatever butterflies or fish I can. To do this, I have to take the sorts of risks that Miller took in writing such a simple and absurd and beautiful and true play.
Willy Loman by Harold Bloom; Chelsea House, 1991 :
[ - The Analysis of Character - Editor's Note - Introduction - Critical Extracts - Critical Essays - Introduction to Collected Plays - Death of a Salesman: a Symposium - The Articulate Victims of Arthur Miller - Willy Tyrannos - Death of a Salesman: a Salesman's Illusion - The Salesman and Society - Sales and Solidarity - Arthur Miller - Dramatic Rhythm in Death of a Salesman - Women and the American Dream of Death of a Salesman ]
2005 THR215 Dramatic Literature: new Williams Pages = The Glass Menagerie ("Seven Scenes").
From Williams to Miller (Death of a Salesman) 2005 *
Dramatic Literature Fall 2007
Edward Albee: A Casebook by Bruce J.Mann; Routledge, 2003 - 1: Three Tall Women: Return to the Muses - 2: Edward Albee: a Retrospective (And Beyond) - 3: Absurdly American: Rediscovering the Representation of Violence in the Zoo Story - 4: "Good, Better, Best, Bested": the Failure of American Typology in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - 5: Like Father, like Son: the Ciphermale in a Delicate Balance and Malcolm - 6: Forging Text into Theatre: Edward Albee Directs Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung - 7: A Demistified Mystique: All Over and the Fall of the Cult of True Womanhood - 8: The Lady from Dubuque: into the Labyrinth - 9: Postmodernist Tensions in Albee's Recent Plays - 10: Directing Three Tall Women - 11: Interview with Edward Albee
Read about national theatre idea, read pages on O'Neill and . "American Age" or "American Century" -- postmodern "nation" USA.From Pirandello and Brecht to 3 American playwrights. Back to Chekhov (Realism) and to the Postmodern (Absurd, Beckett).
Playwright Arthur Miller: born - October 17, 1915 in New York.* O'Neill -- Willams -- Muller: "the big three"
Many of his plays are based (slightly) on his own life, like his marriage to Marilyn Monroe :}
His first successes in writing, and of his awards like the Drama Critics Circle Awards. Bio Info
What's the matter with you? I don't know. Every time I come to this small story about one little man and his life I have a sense of tragedy. Maybe because it's close to home -- America.
Maybe because this is the best life can offer you. Best ever. And that is what you get.
From O'Neill to Miller's Tragedy and The Common Man -- "In this age few tragedies are written..." (p. 683)
"It's not easy to find people who use the language the way I think it is in my plays. They tend to emotionalize everything when, in fact, the emotion can come through the language with far less effort than they're putting into it. I made it easy for them, really, if they'll just trust the language."
Death of a Salesman > Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Mamet (American Century, American Drama, American Tragedy): Won the Pulitzer prize in Drama for "Glengary Glen Ross". His stage work assayed in book entitled, "How Good is David Mamet, Anyway?" by critic John Heilpern, Dec.1999. script.vtheatre.net/themes pages!
Death of A Salesman (1949)"...I believe that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were." Arthur Miller
It makes the whole thing even more tragic.
* "Take Two": Albee -- Mamet -- Shepard (or Kushner?)
... and finaly, Pomo (Also, Beckett), Pata-Theatre and etc. The End of DramLit territory and the entrance into Playscript Analysis class! See you there! (next offering -- Fall 1999)
Not for the 215 (DramLit) class: Albee "Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (my paper for the Albee Conference in 1997). [Not posted yet]
For Playscript Analysis class: Shepard. Kushner is on another page. Pinter has no page.
My "Director's Notes" on The Island: Fugard
"American Drama" should be called North American Drama and here comes in the theme of the North. Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov.THR413 Writing assignments: 200 words post after reading each play (plus, oral presentation). Midterm Paper (Outline, 1st Draft, Final), Final (and/or the Scene -- the same three stages or rewrites), tests.
... The absence of conventional patterns of mythic interpretation has made it necessary for the American dramatist to devise new ways of seeing, interpreting, and re-creating reality. In terms of his ability to formulate coherent mythic patterns, perhaps the most effective dramatist in the American group is the "middle" playwright Arthur Miller.In his major works, All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, and A View from the Bridge, Miller seems to demonstrate a superiority to other American dramatists in the symbolic interpretation of universal dimensions of collective experience. Indeed, perhaps the most nearly mature myth about human suffering in an industrial age is Miller's masterwork, Death of a Salesman. In this work, first performed some thirteen years ago, Miller has formulated a statement about the nature of human crises in the twentieth century which seems, increasingly, to be applicable to the entire fabric of civilized experience. The superiority of Death of a Salesman over the other worthy American dramas such as Mourning Becomes Electra, A Streetcar Named Desire, or Miller's own work, The Crucible, is the sensitivity of its myth: the critical relationship of its central symbol, the Salesman, to the interpretation of the whole of contemporary life. In this image, Miller brings into the theatre a figure who is, in our age, a kind of hero¡ªa ritual representative of an industrial society. It is its intimate association with our aspirations which gives to the story of Loman an ambiguous, but highly affecting, substratum of religious, philosophical, political, and social meanings. The appearance of the Salesman Loman as the subject of moral exploration stirs the modern spectator at that alternately joyful and painful periphery of consciousness which is the province of tragedy. The enactment of his suffering, fall, and partial enlightenment, provokes a mixed response: that anger and delight, indignation and sympathy, pity and fear, which Aristotle described as "catharsis."
Miller writes that, in Loman, he has attempted to personify certain values which civilized men, in the twentieth century, share. The movement of tragedy from the ground of the lawless Titan Prometheus to that of the common man Loman does not represent, for Miller, a decline in values; on the contrary, it is evidence of a hopeful development. For Loman, a descendant of the nineteenth-century protagonists of Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw, and others, reflects Western civilization's increasing concern with a democratic interpretation of moral responsibilities. Death of a Salesman attempts to explore the implications of a life for which men, not gods, are wholly responsible.
Some of the problems with the interpretation of this play have grown out of the author's own statements about his intent; that is to say, Miller seems to have created in Death of a Salesman a new form which transcended his conscious motive. Death of a Salesman, despite the presence of those social implications which Miller notes in his later essays, is a myth, not a document; that is to say, it is not, in the conventional sense, a problem play. Unlike Miller's earlier work, All My Sons, Death of a Salesman is not concerned with such human failings as may find permanent social, political, or even psychological remedy. Death of a Salesman, like The Crucible and A View from the Bridge, is, rather, a study of a man's existence in a metaphysical universe. It is, like Agamemnon, Oedipus the King, Hamlet, and King Lear, a mythic apprehension of life. Willy Loman, like the traditional tragic protagonist, symbolizes the cruel paradox of human existence. His story [according to Miller's introduction to Collected Plays,] stripped to its mythic essentials, is familiar:
An aged king,a pious man, moves toward life's end. Instead of reaping the benefits of his piety, he finds himself caught in bewildering circumstances. Because of a mistake, an error in judgment¡ªa tragic reversal has taken place in his life. Where he has been priest, knower of secrets, wielder of power, and symbol of life, he now finds himself adjudged defiler, usurper, destroyer, and necessary sacrifice. Like the traditional hero, Loman begins his long season of agony. In his descent, however, there is the familiar tragic paradox; for as he moves toward inevitable destruction, he acquires that knowledge, that sense of reconciliation, which allows him to conceive a redemptive plan for his house.As in traditional tragedy, Loman, the ritual head of his house, seeks to discover a design in the paradoxical movement of life; to impose upon it a sense of meaning greater than that conferred upon it by actuality. The play asks the ancient questions: What real value is there in life? What evil resides in seeming good? What good is hidden in seeming evil? What permanence is buried beneath the face of change? What use can man make of his suffering?
Miller describes this drama as a study of circumstances which affect human destiny in the moral universe:
I take it that if one could know enough about a human being one could discover some conflict, some value, some challenge, however minor or major, which he cannot find it in himself to walk away from or turn his back on. The structure of these plays, in this respect, is to the end that such a conflict be discovered and clarified. Idea, in these plays, is the generalized meaning of that discovery applied to men other than the hero. Time, characterizations, and other elements are treated differently from play to play, but all to the end that that moment of commitment be brought forth, that moment when, in my eyes, a man differentiates himself from every other man, that moment when out of a sky full of stars he fixes on one star. I take it, as well, that the less capable a man is of walking away from the central conflict of the play, the closer he approaches a tragic existence. In turn, this implies that the closer a man approaches tragedy the more intense is his concentration of emotion upon the fixed point of his commitment.... The assumption, or presumption, behind these plays is that life has meaning.(Introduction, Collected Plays)
[ Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman by Harold Bloom; Chelsea House, 1988, Death of a Salesman: Tragic Myth in the Modern Theatre -- Esther Merle Jackson p.8 ]
A few words about "Beyond Theraphy" by Christ Durang: second times acting/directing students do it as a class project (finals). Comedy, replaced Endgame (too advanced for Intermediate Acting and Fundamentals of Directing). ...Later.
2007 DramLit class -- groups.yahoo.com/group/dramlit
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations
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cite: anatoly antohin. URL + date [ my shows : 1. writer * 2. director * 3. dramaturg * 4. actor ]