⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Arthur Millers The Crucible

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 12:28:19 AM

Arthur Millers The Crucible



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Arthur Miller, The Crucible

He earned widespread praise for Death of a Salesman , which opened on Broadway in and won the Pulitzer Prize along with multiple Tonys. He received more acclaim for his award-winning follow-up, The Crucible , which reflected his unwavering refusal to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Miller's public life was painted in part by his rocky marriage to Hollywood sex symbol Marilyn Monroe.

The playwright died in at the age of 89, leaving a body of work that continues to be re-staged internationally and adapted for the screen. His father, Isidore, owned a successful coat manufacturing business, and his mother, Augusta, to whom he was closer, was an educator and an avid reader of novels. The affluent Miller family lost almost everything in the Wall Street Crash of , and had to move from Manhattan to Flatbush, Brooklyn. After graduating high school, Miller worked a few odd jobs to save enough money to attend the University of Michigan.

While in college, he wrote for the student paper and completed his first play, No Villain , for which he won the school's Avery Hopwood Award. He also took courses with playwright and professor Kenneth Rowe. Inspired by Rowe's approach, Miller moved back East to begin his career as a playwright. Miller's career got off to a rocky start. His Broadway debut, The Man Who Had All the Luck , garnered a fate that was the antithesis of its title, closing after just four performances with a stack of woeful reviews.

Focus , Miller's novel about anti-Semitism, was published a year later. Working in a small studio that he built in Roxbury, Connecticut, Miller wrote the first act of Death of a Salesman in less than a day. The play, directed by Elia Kazan , opened on February 10, , at the Morosco Theatre, and was adored by nearly everyone, becoming an iconic stage work.

The drama follows the travails of Willy Loman, an aging Brooklyn salesman whose career is in decline and who finds the values that he so doggedly pursued have become his undoing. New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson described Willy Loman in his review of the play: "In his early sixties he knows his business as well as he ever did. But the unsubstantial things have become decisive; the spring has gone from his step, the smile from his face and the heartiness from his personality. He is through. The phantom of his life has caught up with him. As literally as Mr.

Miller can say it, dust returns to dust. Suddenly there is nothing. The work, in fact, swept all of the six Tony categories in which it was nominated, including for Best Direction and Best Author. In , Miller divorced his first wife, Mary Slattery, his former college sweetheart with whom he had two children, Jane Ellen and Robert. Less than a month later, Miller married actress and Hollywood sex symbol Marilyn Monroe , whom he'd first met in at a Hollywood party. When Kazan asked Miller to keep Monroe company while he dated another actress, Miller and Monroe struck up a friendship that turned into a romance.

Miller and Monroe's high-profile marriage placed the playwright in the Hollywood spotlight. At the time of their marriage, he told the press that Monroe would curtail her movie career for the "full-time job" of being his wife. His play, the Tony Award-winning The Crucible , a dramatization of the Salem witch trials of and an allegory about McCarthyism , was believed to be one of the reasons why Miller came under the committee's scrutiny. Miller refused to comply with the committee's demands to "out" people who had been active in certain political activities and was thus cited in contempt of Congress. He refused to turn his private conscience over to administration by the state. He has accordingly been found in contempt of Congress. That is the measure of the man who has written these high-minded plays.

Miller and Monroe were married for five years, during which time the tragic sex symbol struggled with personal troubles and drug addiction. Miller barely wrote during their marriage, except for penning the screenplay of The Misfits as a gift for Monroe. Around the same time as The Misfits release, Monroe and Miller divorced. Monroe died the following year, and Miller's controversial drama After the Fall was believed to have been partially inspired by their relationship. Miller was criticized for capitalizing on his marriage to Monroe so soon after her death, although the playwright denied this.

Not only that, he sets it in the place a certain class of Americans is most likely to feel persecuted by the inquisition: high school. Certainly, the continued book-banning and fraught debates over student clubs are enough to justify this choice. Scenic designer Jan Versweyveld places the action in an open institutional room that appears to have been constructed in the s. Massive radiators and a blackboard dominate the upstage wall, which is covered in a few too many coats of blue paint.

A stage-left modern glass partition suggests recent renovations. Wojciech Dziedzic's adult costumes seem inspired by the Land's End catalogue: conservative slacks and pilled sweaters. The wealthy Putnams a believably snooty Tina Benko and Thomas Jay Ryan are naturally dressed a cut above everyone else. The girls, meanwhile, wear school uniforms. When she embraces Mary Warren Tavi Gevinson, artfully crafting a clear journey for her conflicted character in a group hug, we cannot help but gasp at the transparency of it all. Composer Philip Glass who also scored the delightfully melodramatic student-teacher-affair film Notes on a Scandal employs a conspiratorial cello to underscore Abigail's interactions with John Proctor, sending shivers down our spines.

But if the music brands her a seductress, her adolescent uniform never lets us forget the adult in this situation. For his part, the scruffy and handsome Whishaw plays a likable lecher. His moments with Okonedo are tender, conveying a marriage of many years, with all its accompanying baggage and complications. Okonedo, in her first Broadway turn since winning a Tony for A Raisin in the Sun , embodies an Elizabeth who may come off as cold, but for whom it is hard to conclude, as she does, that this is what prompted John's adultery.

The truth of the matter remains shrouded in Miller's text, never fully revealed by the director's seemingly tidy staging. Van Hove is the master of visually arresting moments: The alarming third-act opening will have audience members clinging to their seats, eyes glued to the stage. That same act concludes with a gale force. Unfortunately, the beats between these set pieces often seem neglected.

When the director does intercede, it regularly comes off as stagey, as when the advisers of the court vigorously circle Danforth, like flies on rotting fruit. This may be van Hove's way of dressing up Miller's overwrought dialogue and uneconomical plot development, which causes even the strongest mountings of this play to sag. This is the best production of The Crucible I've ever seen. It is by no means a perfect drama, but as long as a crusading morality is a part of our national character, it seems destined to continue punching audiences in the gut.

Author Zachary Stewart.

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