As I sit writing this, it is October 17, 2015, the 100th birthday of Arthur Miller. I find myself very moved reflecting on this benchmark. Arthur Miller means so much to me. Almost by accident I viewed, on my family’s old Zenith console TV, the CBS Network version of Death of a Salesman. I was 16 years old. Instantly, I understood the power of drama. This masterpiece is about an everyman, very much like my own father. Dad was a salesman who used to bring me along on trips throughout his “region”. I remember going to a barbershop in Princeton, NJ and the barber not only telling me he cut Albert Einstein’s hair (a rather questionable claim) but was able to point out to me the venerable old genius riding by on his bicycle that Friday afternoon so long ago. Such memories. So it was with these deep impressions from my youth that I viewed the downfall of Willy Loman. I had been a musical comedy kid until then, and this changed everything. I felt that if I could make people feel the way I felt that night I would have accomplished something, and I have spent most of my adult life in that pursuit. In 2002, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and directed Salesman for the Montana Repertory Theatre. It is a high point of my career. Miller felt so deeply: he had such passion for people and the traps in which we all are caught. Mankind’s struggle for authenticity, meaning and hope for a better future were what drove his plays and his soul. All Americans respond to his questioning voice. He was never still, always challenging, always searching. It is this restlessness, this longing for “more” that is so much a reflection of the quintessential American Character that Miller so eloquently captured, and why, generation after generation he is read, produced, and admired.
In producing All My Sons for our 2016 National Tour we continue the Montana Rep’s investigation into the American Character. In All My Sons, an early Miller masterpiece, we witness a strong and passionate example of the “Miller Spirit.”