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February 12, 2005 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-12

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The Michigan Daily - Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 3

* "Hle said he stopped writing
for the Daily because he didn't
like sticking to the facts. He
much preferred making things
up. The rest, you know, is
- Enoch Brater,
Theater and English professor who interviewed
Miller numerous times and is working on an
upcoming book on the famous playwright.

o tell the
truth on the
American stage.
It turned out to
be on a universal
- University alum and CBS
News correspondent Mike
Wallace about the motiva-
tions that drove Miller's
work as a playwright.

"Everybody who has acted in the arts at the
University of Michigan is aware of the legacies
of Arthur Miller and wonders who will be the
next Arthur Miller. It reflects well on our tradition
of being both socially conscious and artistically
- RC junior Ryan Bates, who has participated in activist theater
groups on campus, such as Acting Out and is currently work-
ing on The Laramie Project which explores the motivations
and ramifications of the Matthew Shepard murder.

A r thur miller was
a longtime friend with
whom I had a wonderful
association. My thoughts
and prayers are with his
- Former President Gerald Ford, who
graduated from the University in 1935.

Continued from page 1.
plays, "An Enemy of the People," is
0 a direct adaptation of Ibsen's well-
regarded drama.
After Miller graduated from the
University, he struggled to create a
successful career in writing. His early
plays failed to elicit public or critical
interest, with only "The Man Who
Had All the Luck" seeing production.
Though the work made it to Broad-
way, it closed after only three days
and four performances. During this
uneasy period in the 1940s, Miller
wrote a controversial novel, "Focus,"
which deals with the era's anti-Semi-
tism. With no immediate success
in sight, he worked in the Brooklyn
Navy Yard to support his first wife,
Mary Grace Slattery, whom he mar-
ried in 1940.
Miller remembered the early period
of his career as a time of desperation.
"I laid myself a wager, I would hold
back this play until I was as sure as
I could be that every page was inte-
gral to the whole and would work,"
he wrote in his autobiography "Time-
The end result, "All My Sons,"
established Miller as one of Amer-
ica's most promising young play-
wrights and gave Miller's career a
solid foundation. The play, a moral-
ist drama that focuses on two World
War II families embroiled in war
racketeering, was selected as one
of the 10 best plays of 1947, earned
two Tony Awards and the New
York Drama Critics' Circle Award
- defeating Eugene O'Neill's "The
Iceman Cometh."
Along with these accolades,
"All My Sons" established the dra-
matic hallmarks that would go on
to become Miller's signatures: the
blurred lines between familial and
professional obligations, government
paranoia and personal guilt. The play
also marked the first of three collabo-
rations between Miller and director
Elia Kazan.
In the wake of his first true pro-
fessional success, Miller turned to
themes of his youth for what would
become his most important and
enduring contribution to Ameri-
can theater. "Death of a Salesman"
opened in 1949 to universal acclaim.
The tragic tale of Willy Loman's fall
from grace echoed not only Depres-
sion-era fears, but also Miller's own
experience with his father's business
Winning the triple crown of
American theatrical awards - the
Pulitzer Prize, the Tony and Drama
Critics' Circle - the play is regarded
as Miller's creative zenith. Hailed in
some circles as the definitive Ameri-
can play, it has been translated into
almost 30 languages and has enjoyed
countless revivals.
Miller gradually became more
political as he grew closer stylisti-
cally to his forerunner Ibsen. 1950's

Ibsen adaptation, "An Enemy of the
People," immersed Miller in the
Communism debates of the era. The-
matically, the work foreshadowed his
overtly political and socially subver-
sive "The Crucible."
As Red Scare paranoia reached
its peak, Miller's relationship with
Kazan deteriorated. Kazan named
names in the House Un-American
Activities Committee hearings, cre-
ating a rift that divided the creative
In 1953's "The Crucible," Miller
used the 17th century Salem Witch
Trials as an allegory to expose the
hypocrisy and mindless hysteria of
McCarthyism. The work's premiere
could not have been timelier; initial
performances of the show coincided
with the execution of the Rosenbergs
- a husband and wife convicted of
treason on the grounds that they were
Soviet spies.
In the years surrounding the cre-
ation of "The Crucible," Miller's per-
sonal life began to surpass his career
in notoriety. He began a romantic
relationship with Hollywood star-
let Marilyn Monroe, former wife of
baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, after
Kazan introduced the two. The couple
forged a strong and immediate bond
and constantly found themselves in
the headlines.
After his courtship of Mon-
roe thrust him into the spotlight of
American celebrity, Miller was called
to appear before the House on Un-
American Activities Committee in
1956. In a display of emotional for-
titude and courage, Miller refused to
reveal the names of Communist sym-
pathizers during questioning and was
subsequently found in contempt of
Miller and Monroe were married
in 1956 in the midst of his testimo-
ny in Congress. The marriage took
place less than a month after Miller
divorced his first wife. Their years
together were marked by Miller's
singular obsession with "The Mis-
fits," a film script he wrote and
dedicated to Monroe; the production
was to be her last film. Their mar-
riage dissolved in 1961, as Monroe's
spiral into drug abuse and mental
illness became too much for Miller
to endure.
Miller remarried in 1962. Six
months later, Monroe committed
suicide at her Los Angeles home.
The premier of Miller's most per-
sonal play quickly followed her
death in 1964.
"After the Fall" is a clear retelling
of their marriage. The play's protag-
onist is an intellectual lawyer caught
in the McCarthy trials and forced
to grapple with his wife's escalat-
ing insanity and drug addiction.
Maggie, the platinum blonde, drug-
addled wife, bore an uncanny rela-
tion to Monroe, and audiences and
critics alike noted the similarities.
"After the Fall" also reunited Miller
with Kazan. The two put on the work

Continued from page 1
themes in his work was all the more
surprising because "he's such a
socially involved playwright," Born-
stein said.
Though Miller's work is largely
secular, Bornstein said, "He's prob-
ably the preeminent Jewish play-
wright of the 20th century."
Many - other faculty members
expressed their sadness yesterday at
Miller's passing.
Theater Prof. OyamO, playwright
in residence at the University, was
shocked by the news of Miller's
"I was listening to (National
Public Radio) as usual, and some-
one broke into the show to say that
Arthur Miller had died. It stopped
me totally," he said.
OyamO recalled his experience in
a workshop led by Miller during his
visit to the University last year.
"We were listening to the play,
and when we were done I turned
to him, tapped him on the shoulder
and said, 'I hope you don't mind,
but I borrowed something from
you,' " he said.
OyamO was working on a play at
the time about a man recalling his
time in Africa and was inspired by
Miller's original title for "Death
of a Salesman," "The Inside of His
"He said, 'I don't mind, as long
as you did a good job,"' OyamO
recalled. "He was a great man and a
great writer."
Theater Prof. Philip Kerr noted
that Miller's impact lives on in the
University's Department of Theater
and Drama.
"I think it's a coincidence that
the day he died, a production of
Romeo and Juliet' opened at the
(Lydia) Mendelssohn Theatre, and
many members of that cast were in
an Arthur Miller tribute a year ago
and got to meet him. There's a sense
of (continuance) that I think Miller
would have appreciated," Kerr said.
Katherine Mendeloff, a lecturer
Continued from page 1.
Besides a 250-seat theater, the
100,000 square-foot facility will
also be home to rehearsal rooms,
studios, classrooms, workshops and
faculty offices. It will replace the
110-seat Trueblood Theater current-
ly in the Frieze Building.
Former University President Lee
Bollinger first suggested the theater
in 1997 in an effort to demonstrate
the University's rich history through
physical ties to the past.
"Future generations of students
will see his name on the walls of
that theater and know the extent of
the possibilities that lie before them
because of his life," Wolff said.

of drama at the Residential College,
echoed her colleagues' praise of
Miller, calling his work some of the
"greatest dramatic writing that we
have in this country."
Mendeloff said she was saddened
by Miller's death because he had a
profound impact on her career.
"He certainly has been an influ-
ence on me as a theater student and
as a director ... on my sense of what
is important as an inner artist," she
Mendeloff uses Miller's plays
in several of her classes and said
his work is beneficial for students
because it helps them discover why
theater is important.
One of those students, RC junior
Ryan Bates, said Miller left behind
a legacy of activist theater that has
enabled the production of recent
plays such as "The Laramie Proj-
ect," a play by Moises Kaufman
that explores the motivations behind
and implications of the murder of
Matthew Shepherd, who was killed
in 1998, allegedly because he was
openly gay. The RC Players will be
performing the play in late March.
"Having such powerful theater
available, and to have it accepted as
some of the best ... made me look up
to Arthur Miller," Bates said.
He said Miller's legacy impacts
University student activism as well
as theater.
"Everybody who has acted in the
arts at the University of Michigan is
aware of the legacies of Arthur Mill-
er and wonders who will be the next
Arthur Miller," he said. "It reflects
well on our tradition of being both
socially conscious and artistically
RC sophomore Lindsey Strauss
also praised Miller's social con-
"He's really important because he
did take a stand against the govern-
ment," Strauss said, calling Miller
an "inspiration for activist groups
on campus."
- Emily Kraack and Abby Stassen
also contributed to this report.
Six former students of the Univer-
sity have recently been nominated
for Tony awards, American theater's
.highest honor.
"We have superb programs in the-
ater and musical theater," University
Provost Paul Courant said in July.
"Finally they will have space that
will support and enhance their mar-
velous quality."
After Miller's approval in 2000,
the theater was originally slated
for a Central Campus site near the
Power Center. Further revisions to
the plans sent it to the North Cam-
pus area. The price of the total Wal-
green project is now at $34 million.
This spring, the regents are expected
to vote in approval of the theater's
next phase.

The above article from The Michigan Daily recounts Miller's Pulitzer Prize
win for "Death of a Salesman" in 1949.

as the premiere performance at Lin-
coln Center in New York.
In 1965, Miller became president
of the PEN International, an asso-
ciation of literary figures, which he
held until 1969. His activism led him
to take part in the 1968 Democratic
National Convention, as a represen-
tative from Roxbury, Conn.
Though his later works failed to
capture the same critical or audi-
ence acclaim of his previous plays,
he remained prodigious in his output.
His plays were frequently translated

to film and television, with varying
success. Miller's final play, "Finish-
ing the Picture," played this fall in
Throughout his life, writing
remained an integral component. In
his 1965 Hopwood address, Miller
said, "The only recognition an author
ought to have is that he has the power
to vanquish life's brutal fist and see
what lies beyond."
- The Associated Press contributed
reporting to this article.

Continued from page 1
He submitted the highly autobiographical
play, "No Villain," about a coat manufacturer
and shipping clerks' strike, to the Hopwood
Awards Committee in 1936 under the pseud-
onym Beymom. The play won him $250 and
the Minor Award for Drama.
In his book "Arthur Miller's America:: The-
ater and Culture in a Time of Change," The-
ater and English Prof. Enoch Brater writes that
a judge said the play possessed "an excellent
modern theme, handled with a tender insight
into character."
His subsequent Hopwood Award came
a year later for "Honors at Dawn," submit-
ted under the pseudonym Corona. The play
focuses on working-class issues, a theme Mill-
er returned to in many of his other works. It
draws on both his experiences working in an
automobile parts warehouse and his time at
the University
He made a third and final attempt to secure
a Hopwood in 1938 for a prison play titled
"The Great Disobedience" but did not win.
Miller had arrived at the University two
years after his high school graduation from
* Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School,
where he was a sub-par student - he failed

hadn't seen any plays to speak of, maybe two
or three plays in my life."
Hoping to further his development as a
writer, Miller joined The Michigan Daily's
news staff. The byline "Arthur A. Miller" first
appeared May 21, 1935, in an article titled
"Anti-Red Bill Sent to Senate."
"When I worked for the Daily I did just
general reporting, and I was the night editor
for awhile. And I got to write some good sto-
ries about all sorts of stuff," Miller told the
Daily in 2000.
In his book, Brater writes, "Miller's
reporting for The Michigan Daily falls rather
neatly into two separate categories: one deal-
ing with campus events and information of
a nonpolitical nature, the other reflecting his
growing commitment and attraction to pro-
gressive causes."
Miller eventually lost interest in journal-
ism - which was his major until switching to
English in 1936 - and his last piece to appear
in the Daily ran on May 31, 1937, as a letter to
the editor supporting a labor sit-down strike in
Washtenaw County.
"He said he stopped writing for the Daily
because he didn't like sticking to the facts. He
much preferred making things up. The rest,
you know, is history," Brater said.
Miller's reputation as a playwright began

A May 1965 article from The Michigan Daily covers Arthur Miller's Hopwood Awards address about the role of the artist in modern
American society. Miller won two Hopwood awards while a student at the University.

ing Club, located in Lane Hall. In exchange

found his way so to speak in Ann Arbor....

1956 when he was honored with a Doctor of


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