Waltzing Mechanics seek documentary plays
This two day event will feature selections from original works written by playwrights interested in telling stories about real people and events.
Each piece will be assigned a director, a cast of up to seven actors, and guaranteed two performances.
The Jane Chambers Playwriting Award
This award is administered by the Women in Theatre Program. The Jane Chambers Playwriting Award recognizes plays and performance texts created by women that present a feminist perspective and contain significant opportunities for female performers.
Watermelon One-Act Play Festival
We welcome all original and unpublished works between 10 and 45 minute total running time (includes set up/breakdown and curtain call). Twelve to sixteen entries will be selected based on the quality of the writing, story/plot, and character development.
*** FOR MORE INFORMATION about these and other opportunities see the NYCPlaywrights web site at http://www.nycplaywrights.org ***
*** ARTHUR MILLER’S ARCHIVE ***
Inside the Battle for Arthur Miller’s Archive
Arthur Miller’s place in the pantheon of 20th-century American literature is secure. But his literary remains have been in limbo since his death in 2005.
More than 160 boxes of his manuscripts and other papers have been on deposit for decades at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, uncataloged and all but inaccessible to scholars, pending a formal sale. Another cache — including some 8,000 pages of private journals — remained at his home in rural Connecticut, unexplored by anyone outside the intimate Miller circle.
Now, the Ransom Center has bought the entire archive for $2.7 million, following a discreet tug-of-war with the Miller estate, which tried to place the papers at Yale University despite the playwright’s apparent wishes that they rest in Texas.
October 9, 1955
'A View From the Bridge'
By BROOKS ATKINSON
For credible reasons Arthur Miller has deliberately under-written the two one-act plays that are now on stage at the Coronet. Believing in the dramatic values of the material, he has tried to let the plays tell their own stories.
The plays are "A Memory of Two Mondays" and "A View From the Bridge." The first takes place on the Manhattan side of the East River; the second, in Brooklyn. Although with some exceptions the same actors appear in both plays, the stories and the characters are not the same. But the plays are related in style and point of view. They sketch the lives of undistinguished, unheroic city workers, and both make a point of Mr. Miller's detachment.
"A Memory of Two Mondays" chronicles the daily life of the men and women who work in the shipping room of a dingy barren warehouse. Except for a few words of comment by two young men who have dreams of a better future, the drama is factual, composed of humdrum details. To this theatregoer, Mr. Miller's exercise in theatrical photography is flat and diffuse. Both the acting and the script are distractingly busy. Instead of evoking a poetic mood or setting up overtones of meaning, the play is swamped in its own flood of detail. Although it is under-written it gives the paradoxical impression of being overwritten, as though Mr. Miller had not reduced his material to the size of a one-act play.
But in the second play, "A View From the Bridge," has power and substance. It is based on a story Mr. Miller once heard in the Brooklyn neighborhood where he lives. Eddie, an ordinary longshoreman, in unconsciously in love with his niece-the daughter of his wife's dead sister. Early in the play two of his wife's Italian relatives are smuggled in and start to live furtively in Eddie's apartment. Catherine, the niece, falls in love with the younger Italian brother and proposes to marry him.
January 23, 1953
By BROOKS ATKINSON
Arthur Miller has written another powerful play. "The Crucible," it is called, and it opened at the Martin Beck last evening in an equally powerful performance. Riffling back the pages of American history, he has written the drama of the witch trials and hangings in Salem in 1692. Neither Mr. Miller nor his audiences are unaware of certain similarities between the perversions of justice then and today.
But Mr. Miller is not pleading a case in dramatic form. For "The Crucible," despite its current implications, is a self-contained play about a terrible period in American history. Silly accusations of witchcraft by some mischievous girls in Puritan dress gradually take possession of Salem. Before the play is over good people of pious nature and responsible temper are condemning other good people to the gallows.
Having a sure instinct for dramatic form, Mr. Miller goes bluntly to essential situations. John Proctor and his wife, farm people, are the central characters or the play. At first the idea that Goodie Proctor is a witch is only an absurd rumor. But "The Crucible" carries the Proctors through the whole ordeal - first vague suspicion, then the arrest, the implacable, highly wrought trial in the church vestry, the final opportunity for John Proctor to save his neck by confessing to something he knows is a lie, and finally the baleful roll of the drums at the foot of the gallows.
Although "The Crucible" is a powerful drama, it stands second to "Death of a Salesman" as a work of art. Mr. Miller had had more trouble with this one, perhaps because he is too conscious of its implications. The literary style is cruder. The early motivation is muffled in the uproar of the opening scene, and the theme does not develop with the simple eloquence of "Death of a Salesman."
February 11, 1949
At the Theatre
By BROOKS ATKINSON
Arthur Miller has written a superb drama. From every point of view "Death of a Salesman," which was acted at the Morosco last evening, is rich and memorable drama. It is so simple in style and so inevitable in theme that is scarcely seems like a thing that has been written and acted. For Mr. Miller has looked with compassion into the hearts of some ordinary Americans and quietly transferred their hope and anguish to the theatre. Under Elia Kazan's masterly direction, Lee J. Cobb gives a heroic performance, and every member of the cast plays like a person inspired.
Two seasons ago Mr. Miller's "All My Sons" looked like the work of an honest and able playwright. In comparison with the new drama, that seems like a contrived play now. For "Death of a Salesman" has the flow and spontaneity of a suburban epic that may not be intended as poetry but becomes poetry in spite of itself because Mr. Miller has drawn it out of so many intangible sources.
It is the story of an aging salesman who has reached the end of his usefulness on the road. There has always been something unsubstantial about his work. But suddenly the unsubstantial aspects of it overwhelm him completely. When he was young, he looked dashing; he enjoyed the comradeship of other people--the humor, the kidding, the business.
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.
This is only a little of what Mr. Miller is saying. For he conveys this elusive tragedy in terms of simple things--the loyalty and understanding of his wife, the careless selfishness of his two sons, the sympathetic devotion of a neighbor, the coldness of his former boss' son--the bills, the car, the tinkering around the house. And most of all: the illusions by which he has lived--opportunities missed, wrong formulas for success, fatal misconceptions about his place in the scheme of things.
January 30, 1947
The Play in Review
By BROOKS ATKINSON
With the production of "All My Sons," at the Coronet last evening, the theatre has acquired a genuine new talent. Arthur Miller, who wrote "The Man Who Had All the Luck" in 1944, brings something fresh and exciting into the drama. He has written an honest, forceful drama about a group of people caught up in a monstrous swindle that has caused the death of twenty-one Army pilots because of defectively manufactured cylinder heads.
Told against the single setting of an ordinary American backyard, it is a pitiless analysis of character that gathers momentum all evening and concludes with both logic and dramatic impact.
Mr. Miller's talent is many-sided. Writing pithy yet unselfconscious dialogue, he has created his character vividly, plucking them out of the run of American society, but presenting them as individuals with hearts and minds of their own. He is also a skillful technician. His drama is a piece of expert dramatic construction. Mr. Miller has woven his characters into a tangle of plot that springs naturally out of the circumstances of life today. Having set the stage, he drives the play along by natural crescendo to a startling and terrifying climax.
Fortunately, "All My Sons" is produced and directed by people who value it and who have given it a taut and pulsing performance with actors of sharp and knowing intelligence. It is always gratifying to see old hands succeed in the theatre. But there is something uncommonly exhilarating in the spectacle of a new writer bringing unusual gifts to the theatre under the sponsorship of a director with taste and enthusiasm. In the present instance, the director is Elia Kazan.
THE PARIS REVIEW
Arthur Miller, The Art of Theater No. 2
Would you tell us a little about the beginning of your writing career?
The first play I wrote was in Michigan in 1935. It was written on a spring vacation in six days. I was so young that I dared do such things, begin it and finish it in a week. I’d seen about two plays in my life, so I didn’t know how long an act was supposed to be, but across the hall there was a fellow who did the costumes for the University theater and he said, “Well, it’s roughly forty minutes.” I had written an enormous amount of material and I got an alarm clock. It was all a lark to me, and not to be taken too seriously … that’s what I told myself. As it turned out, the acts were longer than that, but the sense of the timing was in me even from the beginning, and the play had a form right from the start.
Being a playwright was always the maximum idea. I’d always felt that the theater was the most exciting and the most demanding form one could try to master. When I began to write, one assumed inevitably that one was in the mainstream that began with Aeschylus and went through about twenty-five hundred years of playwriting. There are so few masterpieces in the theater, as opposed to the other arts, that one can pretty well encompass all of them by the age of nineteen. Today, I don’t think playwrights care about history. I think they feel that it has no relevance.
Excerpt from a letter by Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe, May 17, 1956
“I am enclosing a letter I got today from the first woman I ever knew in my life. My mother. Now maybe you will understand where I learned to write and to feel.
I know I am liable to get very sentimental and maudlin about this, but today is one of the most revelatory days of my life. I could write many pages even a volume, about what this letter brings to my mind. I think that had I died without ever receiving it, I should never have known some unbelievably simple but important things.
You see, Poo, I often try to tell you that you mean things to me beyond your body, beyond your spirit, beyond anything you can know about yourself, and it is hard for another person to understand what she –or he—really signifies to one who lovers her. I will try to tell you a few of the things you mean to me, and which became absolutely clear to me when I got this letter today. (I got it today, Thursday, by the way, because I was in Reno for my passport business, and picked up my mail at the post office.)
First let me say what I feared. They are very conventional people. That doesn’t mean they’re stiff—far from it. But they believe in family virtues, in wives being wives and husbands being husbands. They are not especially scandalized by infidelity, but neither do they forget that the big happiness is family happiness. Above all, they know how to love their children, and truly, if I ever needed anything they would die to get it for me. At the same time, my father could take advantage of me and my brother, if we let him, but he would do that as a father’s privilege; which sounds strange, but when he was a young man it wasn’t until he was twenty five or so that his father let him keep his own paycheck. Everything went into the family pot. It was the European way. So I rebelled in many ways against both of them and for many of the usual reasons, but the time came when I began to write successfully, when once again we were friends. I had established my independence from them; they understood it, and we created the necessary adult distance between ourselves, my parents and I, and yet a friendship of grown people, more or less…
Letter from Marilyn Monroe to Arthur Miller
In thinking about Sunday's letter, April 21, I want you to know this - Poppy you said that I was dear to you partly because I had not lived the lie of propriety and so-called morality - but my darling don't you understand I was never once offered that and maybe if it was possible for me - I might have gone down that road - in other words - there was no choice to make - the same road was always before me. So when you speak of my nobility it really wasn't so noble - but my dear dear dear - that you love me makes so much that has happened to me and is happening to me (in the worst case) unreal - and still I know from all my nerves and muscles and mind that they did happen - so you see how it's doubly difficult to understand that you - the finest, dearest, most beautiful human being chose me - to love.