One of the greatest privileges of my career was working with Arthur Miller. Roundabout produced several revivals of Arthur’s plays over the years, and I can happily admit that this choice is partially because he’s quite simply one of my favorite American playwrights of all time. In fact, it would be fair to thank (or blame!) Arthur Miller for my entire career in the theatre. I can clearly remember being a kid who dreaded reading the novels I was assigned in school. And then, in junior high, I was assigned an Arthur Miller play. It made sense to me in a way no novel ever had. It was my first encounter with the kind of propulsive, morally compelling drama that I would come to learn was Arthur’s specialty. And it sent me running to join the stage crew of the next school play. From that moment on, mine has been a life in the theatre.
Arthur’s own life in the theatre continues to fascinate me. Getting to know the man in the later part of his career was eye-opening, as I watched Arthur react to his older works being revived one after another, even as he continued to write new plays. Here was a man who wrote an instant classic, Death of a Salesman, when he was only 34, and while he derived some joy from the ongoing success of that play, he was always looking forward, still striving to write another piece that might impact the world with the same ferocity. He never stopped trying to make theatre that would illuminate the current world and last well beyond it.
I see a lot of that side of Arthur in The Price. To me, this play sits on a strange border between past and future. Its characters are, in many ways, shackled to their past. Everything that happens in the play is happening less because of decisions made in the present and more because of events that occurred decades earlier, back during the Great Depression. Yet at the same time, it’s 1968, a time of incredible upheaval and forward motion in this country, and it’s clear that these people will see a great deal of change ahead. It’s this tension that makes the play so captivating, as Arthur places these figures in a situation that speaks both to their own particular moment and to the questions faced by anyone trying to reconcile their conscience with the mistakes of the past.
This production marks the first time that Roundabout is producing an Arthur Miller play without the man himself here with us, and I thank his daughter, Rebecca Miller, for that opportunity. I miss the man who, for me, went from inspiration, to legend, to friend. But I think he would be proud of Terry Kinney and his outstanding company of actors and designers. They have come together to create the kind of vibrant theatre that Arthur himself always strove for.
As always, I hope you will share your thoughts with me as you see this production of The Price. Please continue to email me throughout this season at email@example.com. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback, and I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
2016-2017 Season, Arthur Miller's The Price, From Todd Haimes