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October 27, 2000 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-10-27

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12 -- The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 27, 2000


By Anna Clark and Gina Hamadey Daily Staff Reporters

amed American
playwright Arthur Miller
lived on North State
Street in the 1930s. Not far
from that site will rise a
theater bearing the University
alum's name. As one of the
greatest writers of the 20th
Century, the University hopes
his, legend will live on,
enriching campus drama,

The Michigan Daily: When was the last time
you were in Ann Arbor?
Arthur Miller: A couple of years now. I gave
an award to a young playwright. I watched some
theater work there at that time.
TMD: Anything good?
Miller: Yeah, it was some interesting stuff
TMD: What are some of your favorite things
about Ann Arbor?
Miller: Well, of course when I went to school
it was a different place than it is now. But I liked
it a lot because it was a very democratic school.
Particularly because they let me in. And the
atmosphere was very open and I found it a place
where I could develop myself and learn what I
was interested in learning. They were very inter-
ested in writing at that time. It was about the
only school that I knew of, and I think it still is,
where creative writing was important. That was a
very unusual thing at that time. Probably much
less so now, but at that time it was unheard of. I
could hang out with people who wanted to write
and teachers who were interested in writing. That
meant a lot to me.
TMD: What about socially, did you go out a

Miller: Well I was working so much of the
time, I had two jobs, but I had plenty of friends
and a lot discussions about everything that was
going on at the time. And I had a girlfriend
whom I later married. So it was a very active and
useful time for me. I associated all that with Ann
Arbor. What about you?
TMD: I think I'm pretty social; I try to bal-
ance it all. So what were your favorite things
about working for the Daily? Did you work on
anything really interesting?
Miller: When I worked for the Daily I did just
general reporting, and I was a night editor for
awhile. And I got to write some stories about all
sorts of stuff. There was one professor there who
developed a way of analyzing the intake of peo-
ple so they could find out what they could eat
and lose a lot of fat. I wrote the story that he was
inundated with fat ladies. He regretted ever talk-
ing to me.
And the New Deal, so called, was in motion
then. And Ann Arbor had a lot of experts in a lot
of subjects that the new legislation dealt with. So
there was all kinds of interviews about the legali-
ty of all sorts of stuff about what went through
Congress. Because they were changing the fun-
damental laws of the United States.
And there was also a lot of demonstrating
going on, about the invasion by Japan of China,
which everybody has forgotten about. But it was
very important then. And one or two Chinese
guys came and spoke and there were a number of
Japanese students, so there was a lot of conflict.
Another one was the Spanish Civil War, which
a couple of students I knew went to and got'
killed. It was a very politically important time in
American history, in world history, because it
was leading up to the second world war, and

there was a lot of convictions on both sides of a
lot of issues for the Daily to write about.
TMD: About the symposium, was there any-
one you were looking forward to seeing?
Miller: I don't know many of the people there
anymore, except Prof. Enoch Brater. And I
expect to be talking to him on the hook-up
tomorrow. If the hook-up works, which I pre-
sume it will. So you'll see me then.
TMD: He has a lot of nice things to say abou't
Miller: Well, good!
TMD: Have you visited the Daily lately?
Miller: I did one other time. Actually, I think
in my autobiography called "Timebends," which
you can probably get at the library, there is a lit-
tle piece about my revisiting the Daily in the
'50s, which was about 15 years after I graduated
and what I discovered then. You ought to look it
up. There's an index, and you can easily find it.
TMD: I just saw "Timebends" today, because I
was buying your new book, "Echoes Down the
Corridor." It looks good.
Miller: There is some interesting stuff in
there, I think.
TMD: There are a lot of political essays,
Miller: Well, there's all sorts of stuff. There
are essays about the theater and about, oh, all
sorts of issues and parts of life. It's not only
TMD: What about the Arthur Miller Theater,
are you excited to have that put up'?
- Miller: I'm just so happy about that. That's
one of the main reasons I wanted to be there. But
1 expect there will be another occasion where I
can come and see about that. I hope it all pans
out all right.


tragedy and comedy.

More than just a
building, theater

will strengthen


Dozens of American colleges and per-
forming arts centers have asked him for per-
mission to name theaters and buildings in
his honor. He denied every one - except
the University of Michigan.
With a brief postcard mailed to University
President Lee Bollinger, world-renowned
playwright and cultural icon Arthur Miller
casually approved the naming of the Arthur
Miller Theater at his alma mater.
"He was delighted to accept," said Joanne
Nesbitt, University spokeswoman.
More than 60 years after Miller left Ann
Arbor, the University is planning the develop-
ment and construction of the 600-seat theater,
which will be the heart of the new Walgreen
Drama Center that will be built adjacent to the
Power Center for the Performing Arts.
The theater is one of many ways the Uni-
versity maintains ties to one of its most dis-
tinguished alumni - the Brooklyn boy who
arrived on campus in 1934 and left four
years later with two Hopwood writing
awards and lofty ambitions of success on
the stage. Two months later, he was on gov-
ernment "relief," as he called it in his recent
book of essays, "Echoes Down the Corri-
dor." Ten years later,
he won the Pulitzer Miler "she
Prize for his most ,
famous play, "Death the Univer
of a Salesman."
Besides continued be aboiut
writing success, Miller
made headlines for his of nurturin
personal life and polit-
ical opinions. Notably,
he refused to cooper-_
ate with the govern-
ment during the House University reg
Committee on Un-
American Activities hearings,-and he made
actress Marilyn Monroe his second wife.

alumni in University viewbooks. He is
studied in the classroom and performed
on the stage. Currently, students in the
senior seminar English 417: "The Stages
of Arthur Miller" are pouring over
Miller's plays, including "After the Fall"
and "The Crucible." Meanwhile the
Department of Theater and Drama is per-
forming their final, sell-out performance
of Miller's "A View from the Bridge"
tonight at the Trueblood Theater.
Fredricksen also said Miller inspired the
annual Festival of New Works, devoted to giv-
ing burgeoning playwrights and scriptwriters
the opportunity to perform their work.
"He helped launch it, actually," Fredrick-
sen said, adding that Miller came to campus
for the first festival two summers ago.
This week's Arthur Miller Symposium,
honoring the playwright's 85th birthday,
should help display how Miller and the Uni-
versity have influenced each other, said Uni-
versity regent Olivia Maynard
"He's done so much that it's hard to put
into words," Maynard said. "He shows what
the University can be about in terms of nur-
turing the best in people:"
WS what While Maynard said
his name may especially
ity can attract students interested
in theater, the Universi-
Sterms ty's Department of The-
ater and Drama can't ride
,the on his fame.
s3 "People will look at that
pie= but they'll want to see what
Olivia Maynard we're doing today," she said.
Music Prof. Wendy
it (D-Goodrich) Hammond, coordinator of
the University's dramatic
writing program, said Miller's influence could
strengthen and stimulate the community's


American playwright Arthur Miller, a University alum, is best known "The Crucible," seen
here in a 1999 University musical theater performance.

"It was a dream, Strassel said. "The great-
est gift you can give an actor is good writing.
Miller is a great playwright in that he goes
directly to the meat of the drama. There's not
a lot of time wasted on exposition:"
But, Hammond added, Miller's association
with the University humanizes him and stu-
dents are reminded that "he's just a man and
they too could be masters."
In an essay titled "University of Michigan,"
written in 1953 and recently reprinted in the
collected essays of "Echoes Down the Corri-
dor," Miller wrote about how the University

like the University of Michigan should be
great in a lot of different ways. Athletics
are one way but I'd quickly add that the
arts should have equal prominence
because they have equal importance."
The Arthur Miller Theater, expected to be
ready for use in about two years, has different
meaning for different people. Bollinger said
in a press release that he hoped the theater
would remind students that "they might find
their talent, whatever it may be."
"This is vital to what we are as a communi-
ty," Bollinger added.


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