Seattle Repertory Theatre’s “A View from the Bridge”: Beyond the Theatre

~posted by Misha

Photo by Associated Press Published in the Kingsport Times-News

Arthur Miller with Actress Marilyn Monroe. Photo by Associated Press, published in the Kingsport Times-News

The Seattle Repertory Theatre kicks off its fall season with Arthur Miller’s play A View from the Bridge (Sept. 25 – Oct. 18, 2015) in the 100th birthday year of the beloved American playwright.

A View from the Bridge is a play that explores many themes. It centers on an Italian American family in the 1950s in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood. Eddie Carbone is a longshoreman and his ill-fated story is narrated by lawyer, Mr. Alfieri, much like in Nevil Shute’s classic novel, A Town Like Alice. Eddie lives with his wife Beatrice and her orphaned teenage niece, Catherine. Eddie’s protective relationship with Catherine is tested when his wife’s Italian immigrant cousins show up and she becomes romantically involved with one of the young men.

Miller’s play explores the politics of the waterfront and the economics of blue-collar, immigrant lives in New York’s rougher edges. Miller captures the sense of community that was built upon over the generations and the knife’s edge that we all walk in life’s inevitable doling out of joy and pain.

Here are some books and movies that will help deepen your experience of Miller’s classic play:

sacred time by ursula hegiThe Harbor by Ernest Poole220px-A_Memory_of_Two_Mondays_DVD_Cover

Ursula Hegi is most well-known for her WWII novel Stones from the River, but her novel Sacred Time is about an Italian American family in the Bronx and how one event in 1953 changes all of their lives in powerful ways.

Ernest Poole’s The Harbor, first published in 1915, Poole’s novel highlights the political and personal struggles at New York’s waterfront and the clash between labor and capital. Poole was known as a muckraking journalist with socialist ideals.

When it was a one-act, Arthur Miller originally paired A View from the Bridge with his play A Memory of Two Mondays. A one-act comedy-drama set in Depression-era America, this play was first produced in 1955. This DVD features a 1971 NET Playhouse public television production starring Jack Warden, Harvey Keitel, Estelle Parsons, Jerry Stiller and George Grizzard.

Elia Kazan’s Academy Award-winning film, On the Waterfront, was inspired in part by a screenplay he had worked on earlier with Miller called “The Hook.” At the time, Miller had refused to work with Kazan after he testified against Communist sympathizers in Hollywood to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Budd Schulberg, who also testified to the HUAC, wrote the screenplay for this film.

In a recent plug for his HBO show, John Oliver made a crib sheet for students which references the importance of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

In honor of Seattle Repertory Theatre‘s production of A View from the Bridge, the Central Library will be screening the film All My Sons (1948), based on the Arthur Miller play of the same name, on Monday, September 21, at 6 p.m. The Central Library will also host a preview performance of A View from the Bridge and discussion with the director and members of the cast on Tuesday, October 6, at noon.

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