Subscribe Donate Now Calendar
Directions

ARTHUR MILLER ON DEATH OF A SALESMAN


View seating chart

The first image that occurred to me which was to result in Death of a Salesman was of an enormous face the height of the proscenium arch which would appear and then open up, and we would see the inside of a man’s head. In fact, “The Inside of His Head” was the first title. It was conceived half in laughter, for the inside of his head was a mass of contradictions…

The play grew from simple images.

Endless, convoluted discussions, wonderments, arguments, belittlements, encouragements, fiery resolutions, abdications, returns, partings tremendous opportunities and small, squeaking dénouements and all in the kitchen now occupied by strangers who cannot hear what the walls are saying.

The image of aging and so many of your friends already gone and strangers in the seats of the mighty who do not know you or your triumphs or your incredible value.
The image of your son’s hard, public eye upon you, no longer swept by your myth … no longer knowing you have lived for him and wept for him.

The image of ferocity when love has turned to something else, and yet is there, is somewhere in the room if one could only find it.
The image of people turning into strangers who only evaluate each other.

Above all, perhaps, the image of a need greater than hunger or sex or thirst, a need to leave a thumbprint somewhere on the world. A need for immortality, and by admitting it, the knowing that one has carefully inscribed one’s name on a cake of ice on, hot July day.

– Arthur Miller, Introduction to Collected Plays, 1957, Viking Press, NY


Family, Times Square, c.1949
ON TIME

time was an obsession for me at the moment, and I wanted a way of presenting it so that it became the fiber of the play … *

The structure of events and the nature of its form are also the direct reflection of Willy Loman’s way of thinking at this moment of his life. He was the kind of man you see muttering to himself on a subway, decently dressed, on his way home or to the office, perfectly integrated with his surroundings excepting that unlike other people he can no longer restrain the power of his experience from disrupting the superficial sociality of his behavior.

There are no flashbacks in this play …


© Estate of Louis Faurer, “Self-Portrait, 42nd Street,” Photography Collection,
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs,
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
[Willy Loman is] at that terrible moment when the voice of the past is no longer distant but quite as loud as the voice of the present.

… nothing in life comes “next”… everything exists together and at the same time within us; there is no past to be “brought forward” in a human being … he is his past at every moment and the present is merely that which his past is capable of noticing and smelling and reacting to … **

* – Michigan Quarterly: “An Interview with Arthur Miller,” Matthew C. Roudane, 1985
** – Arthur Miller, Introduction to Collected Plays, 1957, Viking Press, NY

Copyright 2013 Alley Theatre. All rights reserved. 615 Texas Avenue, Houston Texas 77002 713.220.5700 Box Office Best if viewed using Firefox or Internet Explorer