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STUDY GUIDE

Presents

Written by Arthur Miller Directed by Pam MacKinnon
The Old Globe 1363 Old Globe Way San Diego, CA 92101-1696 (619) 231-1941 GlobeLearning@theoldglobe.org www.TheOldGlobe.org

Saturday, January 22, 2011 - Sunday, February 27, 2011

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Welcome to The Old Globe; About the Old Globe…………………………………………………………. 3 Play Synopsis…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 4 The Characters………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5 About the Playwright………………………………………………………………………………………………………7 Additional Readings on Arthur Miller & Death of a Salesman……………………………………….10 Artistic Team: Staff & Cast……………………………………………………………………..…………………… 11 History & Context………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12 The Writing of Death of a Salesman The American Dream Activity 1: Symbols that define America The Ethic of Success Activity 2: Success in America

The World of Theatre…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 20 Time and Space in Death of a Salesman Productions of Death of a Salesman Theatre Etiquette Activity 3: Dialogue Writing Activity 4: Space and Place

LifeSkills…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 30 Activity 5: Discussion/Interview- Pressures of Daily Life Activity 6: Discussion/Interview- Expectations, Accomplishments, and Regrets Our Donors…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………31 This Study Guide was prepared by The Old Globe Education Department with research and activity designs by Teaching Artist, Radhika Rao.

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WELCOME TO THE OLD GLOBE
Welcome to The Old Globe! We are delighted to present an American classic, Death of a Salesman, written by one of America’s foremost playwrights, Arthur Miller. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play, Death of A Salesman is a work of tremendous emotional impact and an unflinching examination of the American dream that is as relevant today as the day it was written. This production is a continuation of The Old Globe’s acclaimed “Classics Up Close” series. Arthur Miller’s work was profoundly concerned not just with individual choice and moral decisions but with how they were contextualized in the social, economic and political milieu of that time. Moreover Miller used certain theatrical techniques, at times conventional, and at times unconventional, to communicate the themes of his play and qualities of his characters. To maximize the viewer’s theatrical and educational experience, this study guide is divided into three major parts: 1. History and Context: Here students will learn about the social and economic context in which Miller wrote this play and the influences that shaped his writing process; 2. The World of Theatre: Here, students will learn about the stage devices and theatrical techniques used, about famous productions of the play, and they will be familiarized with conventional theatre etiquette; and finally 3. LifeSkills: Here students will be introduced to some complex value-based and morality-based issues that the play addresses, such as ideas of success and failure, expectations, and regret over unfulfilled aspirations. At the end of each of the three sections, there are activities that teachers may choose to do with their students in order to connect students’ experiences and daily lives with the themes of the play and to facilitate their independent research into the historical and theatrical context of the play.

ABOUT THE OLD GLOBE
The internationally-acclaimed, Tony® Award-winning Old Globe is one of the most renowned regional theatres in the country, and has stood as San Diego’s flagship arts institution for 75 years. The Old Globe produces a year-round season of 15 plays and musicals on its three stages including its highly-regarded Shakespeare festival. The Globe has become a gathering place for leading theatre artists from around the world, such as Tom Stoppard, Daniel Sullivan, and Chita Rivera, among many others. Numerous Broadway-bound premieres and revivals, such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, and Damn Yankees have been developed at The Old Globe and have gone on to enjoy highly successful runs in New York and at regional theatres across the country. Under the leadership of CEO/Executive Producer Louis G. Spisto, the Globe is at the forefront of the nation’s leading performing arts organizations, setting a standard for excellence in American Theatre.

Find additional articles related to the play in the full program of Death of a Salesman at http://www.theoldglobe.org/_upload/productions/pdf/SalesmanProgramWeb.pdf 3

SYNOPSIS—DEATH OF A SALESMAN

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“I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid.” Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman, Act I

All his life Willy Loman has been a traveling salesman, who made a decent living, but not more. Dreams and evasions have kept him from seeing himself as he is. Now at sixty-three, he is finally forced to face reality: he has a mediocre career; he could never achieve the level of success attained by his older brother, Ben or his neighbor, Charley; his sons have not lived up to his expectations; he doesn’t share the loving relationship with his sons that he imagines in his dreams; he betrayed his wife; and most profoundly, the American Dream has not come true for him or his family. Death of a Salesman is considered an artistic masterpiece and became a turning point in Arthur Miller’s career as a writer. Willy Loman, the protaganist of the play, has became a symbol of the common man throughout the world. The play has had a profound influence on its audiences often moving them to tears. Audiences saw themselves or someone they knew, in the character of Willy, as he tries but fails to achieve the American Dream of material success and prosperity. The play has been structured “expressionistically”, in that, Miller broke down conventional constraints of time and place traditionally observed in theatre, and moved the audience in and out of Willy’s past and then into the present and then back in the past again, as Willy shuttles between the dreams and promises of his past and the harsh reality of the present. The experience of the play thus carries the audience into the mind of Willy, both intellectually and viscerally, to his loneliness, his needs, and his struggle to establish his existential siginificance in the world.

“Salesman is absurdly simple. It’s about a salesman and it’s his last day on earth” —Arthur Miller.

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Thomas Siebold (Ed.). Readings on Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. th Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesman: 50 Anniversary Edition. New York: Penguin.

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CHARACTERS in DEATH OF A SALESMAN
Biff Loman: Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you! Willy Loman: I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman! Death of a Salesman, Act 2

Willy Loman - An insecure, self-deluded traveling salesman. Willy believes wholeheartedly in the American Dream of easy success and wealth, but he never achieves it. Nor do his sons fulfill his hope that they will succeed where he has failed. When Willy’s illusions begin to fail under the pressing realities of his life, his mental health begins to unravel. The overwhelming tensions caused by this disparity, as well as those caused by the societal imperatives that drive Willy, form the essential conflict of Death of a Salesman. Biff Loman - Willy’s thirty-four-year-old elder son. Biff led a charmed life in high school as a football star with scholarship prospects, good male friends, and fawning female admirers. He failed math, however, and did not have enough credits to graduate. Since then, his kleptomania has gotten him fired from every job that he has held. Biff represents Willy’s vulnerable, poetic, tragic side. He cannot ignore his instincts, which tell him to abandon Willy’s paralyzing dreams and move out West to work with his hands. He ultimately fails to reconcile his life with Willy’s expectations of him. (Photo: A scene from the original production of Death of a Salesman, 1949)

Linda Loman - Willy’s loyal, loving wife. Linda suffers through Willy’s grandiose dreams and self-delusions. Occasionally, she seems to be taken in by Willy’s self-deluded hopes for future glory and success, but at other times, she seems far more realistic and less fragile than her husband. She has nurtured the family through all of Willy’s misguided attempts at success, and her emotional strength and perseverance support Willy until his collapse. Happy Loman - Willy’s thirty-two-year-old younger son. Happy has lived in Biff’s shadow all of his life, but he compensates by nurturing his relentless sex drive and professional ambition. Happy represents Willy’s sense of self-importance, ambition, and blind servitude to societal expectations. Although he works as an assistant to an assistant buyer in a department store,

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Happy presents himself as supremely important. Additionally, he practices bad business ethics and sleeps with the girlfriends of his superiors. Charley - Willy’s next-door neighbor. Charley owns a successful business and his son, Bernard, is a wealthy, important lawyer. Willy is jealous of Charley’s success. Charley gives Willy money to pay his bills, and Willy reveals at one point, choking back tears, that Charley is his only friend. Bernard - Bernard is Charley’s son and an important, successful lawyer. Although Willy used to mock Bernard for studying hard, Bernard always loved Willy’s sons dearly and regarded Biff as a hero. Bernard’s success is difficult for Willy to accept because his own sons’ lives do not measure up. Ben - Willy’s wealthy older brother. Ben has recently died and appears only in Willy’s “daydreams.” Willy regards Ben as a symbol of the success that he so desperately craves for himself and his sons. The Woman - Willy’s mistress when Happy and Biff were in high school. The Woman’s attention and admiration boost Willy’s fragile ego. When Biff catches Willy in his hotel room with The Woman, he loses faith in his father, and his dream of passing math and going to college dies. Howard Wagner - Willy’s boss. Howard inherited the company from his father, whom Willy regarded as “a masterful man” and “a prince.” Though much younger than Willy, Howard treats Willy with condescension and eventually fires him, despite Willy’s wounded assertions that he named Howard at his birth. Stanley - A waiter at Frank’s Chop House. Stanley and Happy seem to be friends, or at least acquaintances, and they banter about and ogle Miss Forsythe together before Biff and Willy arrive at the restaurant. Miss Forsythe and Letta - Two young women whom Happy and Biff meet at Frank’s Chop House. Jenny - Charley’s secretary.

I'm gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. It's the only dream you can have - to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I'm gonna win it for him. -Happy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Act 2 6

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Arthur Miller was born on October 17, 1915, in New York

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City, to his Jewish parents, Isidore and Augusta Miller. He has an older brother, Kermit and a younger sister, Joan. Arthur lived a comfortable middle class life until age fourteen when the Great Depression struck and his family’s business failed. Both Arthur and Kermit had to take jobs and the family lost their house and had to move to Brooklyn to be near relatives. In high school, quite like Biff Loman, Arthur was more actively involved in football and other sports than in his studies. After several rejected applications, Miller was finally admitted to the University of Michigan in 1934, where he studied journalism, economics, and history. It was in college that Miller began to study how society functioned and changed and impacted the lives of individuals. Miller was atrracted to the ideals of socialism— especially its concern for the rights and the diginity of the common person. It was also in college that Miller discovered his love for playwriting and in his junior year, he won $250 in a college playwriting contest. Miller graduated from college in 1938 with a degree in English. In 1940 Miller married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery. Miller initially supported himself by writing for the Federal Theater Project, a government sponsored program promoting American writers. During World War II, Miller worked on ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and wrote plays for the Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1944, he received his first theatrical break when his play The Man Who Had All the Luck was staged on Broadway. Unfortunately it was not well received. At age 30, Miller decided to give playwriting one last try and diligently spent the next two years writing the play All My Sons, that was coproduced by stage and film director Elia Kazan, who helped him focus and polish the work. All My Sons enjoyed a profitable run of 328 performances and won the Drama Critics’ Circle Award and inspired Miller to carry on playwriting. But it was with Death of a Salesman, that Miller’s reputation as an outstanding playwright was solidified. The play created a strong response wherever it was staged. It ran for 742 performances before it closed on Nov 18, 1950, having won the Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. With Death of a Salesman, Miller became famous. However despite his

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Thomas Siebold (Ed.). Readings on Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Amy Dunkleburger (2005). A Student’s Guide to Arthur Miller. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow. 5 Christopher Bigsby (2009). Arthur Miller. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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remarkable success, he continued to focus his writing on the struggles of the common person— social, economic, political, and personal. In the 1940s and 1950s, the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States, accompanied by a super-power arms arace, created a mood of fear and suspicion. In particular, political, scial, and business leaders were increasingly concerned that communism threatened the American “way of life”. In 1950 Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), whose mission it was to uncover forces that would subvert this American way of life, started focusing on the intellectual and artistic community in order to find potential communist influences6. HUAC target both Arthur Miller and director, Elia Kazan. Despite having leftist leanings, Arthur Miller was never a member of the Communist Party. However citing artistic freedom as his rationale, he refused to cooperate with HUAC that he believed was censoring the critical voice of the American people. Miller was found guilty of contempt of the Congress but this was later repealed on account that he has not been informed adequately of the risks involved in incurring compempt. Miller’s response to his anti Communist fear, guilt and hysteria was The Crucible, where he merged the terror tactics of McCarthyism with the Salem witch hunts of the 17 th century. The Crucible which premiered on Broadway in 1953, became Miller’s most frequently produced play, staged every week somewhere in the world for the past 40 years. It was dramatized on television and in 1996, he adapted the script to a screenplay and the movie was released with his son-in-law, academy award winning actor, Daniel Day Lewis starring as John Proctor.

(Right Photo) Daniel Day Lewis as John Proctor and Winona Ryder as Abigail in The Crucible.

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History & Social Science Standards for California Public Schools. 11.9.3. The era of McCarthyism, instances of domestic Communism (e.g., Alger Hiss) and blacklisting.

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In 1956, Miller divorced his first wife Mary, and soon after married famous actress, Marilyn Monroe, who had been introduced to him a few years earlier, by his friend, Elia Kazan. However this marriage was short-lived and Miller and Monroe divorced in 1961, a year before Monroe’s death due to drug overdose. Soon after his divorce, Miller met Inge Morath, a Vienna-born photographer and they were married in February 1962. Miller and Morath spent 40 years together till her death in 2002. In the mid-60s, Miller focused on political activism (particularly uplifting the social and political status of writers), becoming the President of PEN, an international writer’s organizing of poets, playwrights, editors, essayists, and novelists. In 1968 he resumed playwriting with The Price, a work about the two brothers who cannot overcome their anger with each other. The play enjoyed moderate success. In the 1970s, Miller wrote three plays: The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972), The American Clock (1976), and The Archbishop’s Ceiling (1977). The productions of all three works were harshly criticized. During the 1980s, Arthur Miller’s works experienced a worldwide revival. In 1983, Miller and his wife traveled to Beijing, China to see a production of Death of a Salesman. In Beijing the play was received very positively. Arthur Miller responded to this enthusiastic reception of the play: “Willy was representative everywhere, in every kind of system, of ourselves in this time”. Miller never quite enjoyed the success he had in the 40s and the 50s and his last few plays had very short runs on the stage. In his eighties, Miller kept writing social dramas, still driven by the desire to represent the wants, struggles, and frustration of common people. The characters in his plays act out human concerns that are universal. Miller called on his characters to take responsibility for their actions and act on the world that they live in; he rejected selfpity in his characters, no matter how dire their circumstance. Arthur Miller passed away at the age of 89 on February 10, 2005, surrounded by his family. When he was dying, he asked to be driven back from New York to New England, where he had written most of his plays. To mourn his death, lights were dimmed on Broadway. Though Miller was an American writer, his passing was felt profoundly across the Globe. Miller’s biographer Christopher Bigsby commented on this global sense of loss: “Across the Atlantic, in England, the editor of the Independent newspaper cleared the whole front page judging that there was no news more pressing than the death of a writer on another continent who may have been made in America but who belonged to everyone”7.

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Christopher Bigsby (2009). Arthur Miller. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p. 671.

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Additional Reading on Arthur Miller & Death of a Salesman

Timebends: A Life. By Arthur Miller (1987). Grove Press.

Arthur Miller. By Christopher Bigsby (2009). Harvard University Press

Arthur Miller: His Life and Work. By Martin Gottfried (2003). Da Capo Press.

A Student’s Guide to Arthur Miller. By Amy Dunkleberger (2005). Enslow Publishers.

Death of a Salesman. By Arthur Miller (1999). 50th Anniversary Edition. Penguin Books.

Readings on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Edited by Thomas Siebold (2005). Greenhaven Press.

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ARTISTIC TEAM
STAFF
Director..................................................................................................... Pam MacKinnon Scenic Design ............................................................................................Marion Williams Costume Design ..................................................................................... Mathew LeFebvre Lighting Design....................................................................................................... Rui Rita Sound Design .................................................................................................... Jeremy Lee Stage Manager ........................................................................................... Lavinia Henley* Assistant Director .........................................................................Hondo Weiss-Richmond Assistant Scenic Design ..................................................................................Sean Fanning Assistant Costume Design ........................................................................... Shelly Williams Production Assistant ................................................................................... Whitney Breite

CAST
(In Alphabetical Order)

The Woman ................................................................................................. Jordan Baker* Willy Loman ............................................................................................ Jeffrey DeMunn* Bernard ............................................................................................................ Ben Diskant Stanley ............................................................................................................ Jesse Jensen Linda ......................................................................................................... Robin Moseley* Happy ............................................................................................................ Tyler Pierce* Charley.................................................................................................... John Procaccino* Jenny/Letta ............................................................................................... Deborah Radloff Biff .................................................................................................... Lucas Caleb Rooney* Miss Forsythe................................................................................................ Ryman Sneed Uncle Ben.................................................................................................... Adrian Sparks* Howard Wagner/2nd Waiter ...................................................................... Jonathan Spivey *Member of Actors’ Equity Association

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HISTORY & CONTEXT8
The Writing of Death of a Salesman:
In his autobiography, Timebends9, Miller recalled that the writing of Death of a Salesman was inspired by a conversation he had with his uncle, Manny Newman, whom he happened to bump into while in Boston for the opening of his first succesful play, All My Sons. Even though Miller had not seen his uncle or his grown son, Buddy for quite a while, Manny’s first words to Miller were not a greeting but instead he told him that Buddy was “doing very well”. “Then,” writes Miller, “I saw a passing look of embarassment on his face…”10 Miller surmised that Manny’s comment arose out of his competitive feeling for Miller, but according to Miller, Manny knew that “he had lost the contest in his mind between his sons and me. An enormous welling sorrow formed in my belly as I watched him merge into the crowd outside.”11 Miller described Manny as a traveling salesman—small, dark with an outrageous imagination and an inflated view of himself and his family. “He was a competitor, at all times, in all things, and at every moment. My brother and I, he saw running neck and neck with his two sons in some race that never stopped in his mind.”12 From that interaction with his uncle, emerged the character of Willy Loman. Miller’s cousin, Buddy was athletic, and Buddy’s younger brother, Abby, was a handsome womanizer with a penchant for stealing. Neither of the two sons turned out to be especially successful. Miller’s cousins then became the inspiration for the two characters in Death of a Salesman, Biff Loman and Happy Loman. Sadly, Manny Newman commited suicide shortly after his Boston meeting with Miller, which further piqued Miller’s curiosity. Miller commented: “I had known three suicides, two of them salesman.”13 Thus the plight of the American traveling salesman became Arthur Miller’s next undertaking. Early one morning, sitting in his completed studio, Miller started writing and by the next morning, he had written half a play, which he initially called Inside Your Head. In his autobiography, Miller recalls the condition he was in when he finally stopped writing: “I realized that I had been weeping—my eyes still burned and my throat was sore from talking it all out and shouting and lauging. I would be stiff when I woke, aching as if I had played four hours of 8

Visual and Performing Arts Standards for California Public Schools, Theatre, Historical and Cultural Context, 3.3.2. Describe the ways in which playwrights reflect and influence their culture 9 Arthur Miller (1987). Timebends: A Life. By Arthur Miller. Grove Press 10 Ibid., p. 131 11 Ibid., p.131 12 Ibid., p. 122 13 Ibid., p. 129

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football or tennis and now had to face the start of another game.” The second half othe play took just six weeks to complete. Producers Walter Fried and Kermit Bloomgarden who were the first to read the play, loved it, and convinced Elia Kazan to direct it. When Kazan called Miller to tell him much he liked it, he broke off in mid-sentence and like many who would read or see the play later, was overcome with sadness because he recognized his father in Willy. Kazan helped Miller refine the play and after several rewrites, the play opened in Philadelphia in January 1949 with a new name- Death of a Salesman.

The American Dream

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The Depression16 of the 1930s seemed to break the promise of the “American Dream”, the promise that America had made to its citizens—that if one worked hard enough one could enjoy success and prosperity. The crash of the stock market in 1929, ended a particular version of history of infallible optimism and confidence. The American dream seemed to fade. And yet the myth of the American Dream was so potent in the national psyche that it did not really disappear. It lingered on and continues to exercise a tremendous hold in American discourse as individuals evaluate the causes of their success or failure. It was the common person’s experience of this powerful American Myth—a myth that manifested for some but evaded others-- that inspired Miller to write Death of a Salesman.

Other Plays that have the American Dream as a Theme
The American Dream by Edward Albee A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller

The American Dream, sometimes in the phrase "Chasing the American Dream," is widely considered a cornerstone of the national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. The phrase American Dream was first expressed by James Truslow Adams in 1931 when he wrote that "life should be better and 14

Christopher Bigsby (1999). Afterword in Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesman: 50 Anniversary Edition. New York: Penguin. 15 Thomas Porter (2003). Willy Loman and The American Dream. In Thomas Siebold’s (Ed.) Readings on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven. 16 History & Social Science Standards for California Public Schools. 11.6. 3. Discuss the human toll of the Depression.

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richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the United States Declaration of Independence which states that "…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor. Sometimes the Dream is identified with success in sports or how working class immigrants seek to join the American way of life.

The Statue of Liberty (above, left) is an iconic symbol of the United States and of the American Dream, representing freedom and liberty for all. Grant Wood’s American Gothic (above, right) is another iconic symbol representing elements of the American Dream, such as a house in the background, and the pitch fork held by the man representing hard work.

Death of a Salesman was not set during the Depression nor was it written during the Depression, but it bears its mark. In the play, Willy Loman, a sixty-three-year-old salesman, who is baffled by his own lack of success, goes back in his memory to the Depression Era, suggesting that personal and national fate were intertwined. He tells himself that he lives in “the greatest country of the world”, where the American Dream is destined to come true for everyone. But when he is faced with his own failure, he can blame no one for it and the very basis of his identity is threatened. He searches desperately back in time through his life for evidence of the moment he took the wrong path, enlisting the help of his dead brother Ben, for whom the American Dream had manifested. Having failed to make a success of his life himself, he looks desperately to the next generation, to his sons, to give him back that sense of achievement through their success.

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Thomas E. Porter writes that Death of a Salesman is an anti-myth, the reverse of a rags-toriches story so that it becomes the story of failure rather than the story of success. It is a story of the failure of the American dream to manifest. The play flows in reverse. Willy Loman’s history begins at the end of the line; instead of the young, determined, and hopeful salesman, an exhausted, old, and jaded salesman enters, carrying along with his sample cases, sixty years of an uphill struggle. The subsequent events show him failing to overcome each obstacle, thus failing to live up to the American Dream. He fails to make a single sale on his last sales trip, he fails to negotiate a salary raise and is in fact, fired. His sons fail to succeed in their own endeavors and his marriage is exposed by his son, Biff, as a lie. In the collapse of the salesman, Miller attempted to illustrate the collapse of the myth of the American Dream. Through the tale of Willy Loman’s final day of life, Miller exposes the hold the collective myth of the American Dream has over the individual imagination—of the promise of assured victory and the tragedy of a life that could not live up to that great promise.

ACTIVITY 1: Symbols that Define America
Create your own American Flag
“The most salient quality of Arthur Miller’s tragedy of the common man, Death of a Salesman, is its Americanism”. - Thomas E. Porter17. In this activity, students will create their own “American Flag”, a nontraditional flag that represents what they think America stands for. The purpose of this activity is to get students to reflect on and express values that they believe define the United States. This activity can be done using the means of visual arts such as collage making or painting or sculpture, or it could be used via the means of performing arts such as dance or theatre. This activity will be most successful if it is preceded by a class discussion in which students are engaged in a critical conversation around the definition of a symbol, the significance of a flag, and what kind of symbols define the United States of America and the symbolism of the American flag. For example, students could work with symbols of American discourse such as immigration, hard work, home ownership, freedom, liberty, entertainment industry, rock and roll, hip hop, Wall Street, etc.

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Thomas Porter (2003). Willy Loman and The American Dream. In Thomas Siebold’s (Ed.) Readings on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven.

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The American Flag could be depicted through visual means such as a poster, or a three dimensional representation, or it could be expressed performatively through a tableau (which is a frozen image created when a group of actors freeze in a position, thus embodying an idea, event, or scene) or through movement using dance and music. In their creations, the students may be encouraged to use the existing symbolism of the official American Flag and mesh their own symbols with these symbols. Or they may choose to complete re-imagine the flag. Whichever way students choose to create their flags, they should be encouraged to provide a rationale of why they chose certain symbols to represent the United States. End the project with a gallery-style exhibition or performance of their final creations, followed by a concluding discussion of what the students see as defining America, in its current social, political, and economic context. If they have not brought it up through their artwork, introduce them to the idea of the American Dream, how it relates to Death of a Salesman, and ask them to share how they as young people relate to the concept of the American Dream.

After the Show
Ask students to identify the symbols used by the playwright and the director in the play that pertain to America. Some examples could include the symbol of a traveling salesman, or the symbol of football, or the symbol of a car. What do these symbols stand for?

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The Ethic of Success
Willy: Figure it out. Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it. Linda: Well, dear, life is a casting off. It’s always that way. Willy: No, no, some people—some people accomplish something. Death of a Salesman, Act 2 In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is driven by the American success ethic, the imperative to achieve material and cultural success. In his article Ethic of Success in Death of a Salesman18, Robert N. Wilson writes that there are many ways that individuals adapt while trying to cope with this American success ethic. Using sociologist Robert Merton’s framework, he outlines five paths to success: 1. Conformity: Accepting both conventional cultural goals and approved insitutional means of reaching them 2. Innovation: Accepting the goals but rejecting the fully legitimate means 3. Ritualism: Rejecting or withdrawing from the goals, but dutifully adhering to the means 4. Retreatism- shunning both the goals and the means; essentially, not the playing the game 5. Rebellion—substituting new values in the realms of both goals and means Willy Loman’s path is primarily through conformity. One of the saddest parts of his story lies in his stubborn, futile effort to do what is expected of him, playing by the rules as he sees them, but still being deprived of success. As life closes in on him in the form of time payments, disappointing children, failing energies and the truth that he is not to be a success that he thought he would become, Willy slips into ritualism. He still plays the game and abides by the rules but doesn’t truly hope for economic success. On the other hand, Willy’s friend and neighbor, Charlie and his son Bernard exemplify conformity but make a success of it. They accept both the goals of success and the approved routes to its attainment. Charlie is a successful businessman and Bernard is a lawyer who’s on his way to arguing a case in the Supreme Court. 18

Robert N. Wilson (2003). The Ethic of Success in Death of a Salesman. In Thomas Siebold’s (Ed.) Readings on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven.

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Willy’s brother Ben represents innovation. He has fully adopted the goal of material success but has apparently taken unusual and not entirely approved means to realize the goal. He stepped outside the regular societal frameworks and became an adventurer in Alaska, building a fortune for himself. His business ethics are questionable as indicated in the scene where he tells Biff: “Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You’ll never get out of the jungle that way.” With regards to the path to success, Willy Loman stresses tactics that he believes are a way to success—popularity, congeniality, physical prowess, and attractiveness. He emphasizes these strategies while guiding his sons but never tells the boys that they need skill or industriousness. Biff, the older son, appears to fit the pattern of retreatism. If Biff had more energy and stability of purpose, he might pursue rebellion, yet his rebellion is limited to his unfulfilled dream of an outdoor life far from the rat race. Happy seems harder to place, according to Wilson, but is generally conforming. Happy gets, in modest means, what he thinks he wants but his life is nonetheless flavorless. Linda, wife and mother, holds the family together with her stoicism. Her chosen path is ritualism. She keeps on going, no matter what, but questions the ethic of success, saying, “Why must everybody conquer the world?” Thus, the characters in Arthur Miller’s play have their own relationship to the ethic of success, choosing their own path while adapting to the predominant American ethic of success. Ask your students: What path to

success would you choose? Why?

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ACTIVITY 2. Success in America
What does Success look like in America?
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In this activity, students will represent the ethic of success as they believe it exists today in contemporary United States. Ask your students: What does success look like in America? In order to respond to that question, students must create images of success using any kind of media (chosen by the student or the teacher) such as collage, painting, sculpture, dance choreography, musical rendition, theatrical representation, web page, or short film. Encourage students to think of myriad kinds of successful people such as students, workers, owners of companies, artists, mothers and diverse notions of success. Guide students to think of what successful people look like, how they would move, what they would wear, where they would live, what they would do, etc. Students should consider the current times that they are living in (recession, budget cuts, test-driven education systems, etc.) and situate their images of success within those contexts. In their image representations, students may use metaphors to enhance their image of success, such as “Ladder to Success” or “Key to Success” or they may use well known cultural symbols such as the hand sign for Victory.

After the Show
Discuss: Which characters in the play achieved success and which characters failed to do so? Why? Why not? What were some of the factors that impacted their success/failure? Guide students to appreciate the multiple and subjective definitions of success as well as the causes of success, such as, hard work, social networks, luck, determination, education, mentorship, innovation, etc.

19

Visual and Performing Arts Standards for California Public Schools, Theatre VAPA 5.1. Connecting and Applying what is learned in Theatre to Other Art Forms and Subject Areas and to Careers.

19

THE WORLD OF THEATRE
Time and Space in Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman can be a challenging play to follow as the flow of time and use of space is quite unconventional. Brian Parker describes how Arthur Miller uses both realistic and unrealistic elements in Death of a Salesman20. The playwright blends realistic images of modern American life—cars, aspirin, refrigerators, etc.- with symbolism and expressionism. For example, the character of Ben is not real; rather he is an expression of Willy’s desire for escape and success. The play does not follow a linear timeflow pattern but moves in an expressionist fashion back and forth between the past and the present. Willy’s life history comes to the fore as splashes of the present and past are thrown onto the canvas of the theatrical stage.

Expressionism was a cultural movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the start of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world in an utterly subjective perspective, radically distorting it for emotional effect, to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of "being alive” and emotional experience rather than physical reality.

20

Brian Parker (2003). Expressionism in Death of a Salesman. In Thomas Siebold’s (Ed.) Readings on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven.

20

As a playwright, Miller suggests the use of several stage devices to distinguish time and place21. One such device is lighting. As the first memory scene in Act One begins, for example, Miller notes in the stage directions: “Willy’s form is dimly seen below in the darkened kitchen. He opens the refrigerator, searches in there, and takes out a bottle of milk. The apartment houses are fading out, and the entire house and surroundings become covered in leaves.” The light then rises on the kitchen and Willy, who has been mumbling to an invisible Biff, shuts the refrigerator. By lowering and raising the light levels, Miller signals to the audience that the time frame is changing. Another way that Miller suggests to the audience with time shifts is movement. In the opening stage directions Miller advises: “Whenever the action is in the present the actors observe the imaginary wall-lines, entering the house only through the door at the left. But in the scenes of the past, these boundaries are broken, and characters enter or leave a room by stepping ‘through’ a wall onto the forestage.” In addition to lighting and movement, Miller creates sound motifs to underscore some of the characters. Willy has his own “theme” music, which is played on a solo flute, the instrument his long lost father once made and played. The flute theme accompanies Willy in the present and is heard at the end of the play as Linda speaks over Willy’s grave. Ben also has his own recognizable theme music, while raucous laughter always signals the arrival of The Woman. The above devices were suggestions offered by Arthur Miller as the playwright. However according to common theatrical convention, the director of the play is not bound by the playwright’s suggestions and directions and can choose to stage the play in any manner that they think best. Thus, director, Pam MacKinnon chose her own stage devices that she thought were the best to depict the shifts in time and place.

After the Show
Ask your students: What were some of the stage devices that the director used to mark shifts in time and place? Now imagine you were directing Death of a Salesman. What other stage devices would you use to mark these shifts?

21

Amy Dunkleburger (2005). A Student’s Guide to Arthur Miller. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow.

21

Productions of Death of a Salesman
The original Broadway production was produced by Kermit Bloomgarden and opened at the Morosco Theatre on February 10, 1949, and won the Tony Award for Best Play, Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Arthur Kennedy), Best Scenic Design (Jo Mielziner), Producer (Dramatic), Author (Arthur Miller), and Director (Elia Kazan), as well as the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play. The play has been revived on Broadway three times since. Below are photos (by Eileen Darby) from the original New York production starring Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman, Mildred Dunnock as Linda, Arthur Kennedy as Biff, Cameron Mitchell as Happy, and Thomas Chalmers as Uncle Ben.

22

In 1984, Dustin Hoffman played Willy Loman on Broadway. In 1985, Death of a Salesman was adapted into a movie starring Dustin Hoffman as Willy, Kate Reid as Linda, and John Malkovich as Biff. Photo on the right Dustin Hoffman (right) as Willy Loman and John Malkovich (left) as Biff Loman.

Movie versus Film
Watch the movie with your class. After viewing the stage performance, ask your students how they would compare and contrast the film and the play? They can talk about the actor’s interpretation of their characters, the technical aspects such as light and sound, how time and space is depicted, images, realism, etc.

23

Brian Dennehy and Elizabeth Franz starred as Willy and Linda in the 50 th Anniversary production which opened at New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre on February 10, 1999. Below are scenes from the production with Kevin Anderson as Biff, Ted Koch as Happy and Allen Hamilton as Uncle Ben.

Use these photographs to introduce students to the play. Ask them what they infer from these photographs. Include questions such as: Which state of mind is Willy Loman in? What can you tell about the kind of relationship Willy and Linda share? What can you tell about the relationship Willy has with his sons, in particular from his oldest, Biff?

24

The Old Globe’s Production of Death of a Salesman (2011)

(Left to Right, Clockwise) Jonathan Spivey as Howard Wagner and Jeffrey DeMunn as Willy Loman; Adrian Sparks as Uncle Ben and Jeffrey DeMunn as Willy Loman; Robin Moseley as Linda, Lucas Caleb Rooney as Biff, Tyler Pierce as Happy and Jeffrey DeMunn as Willy Loman; Jeffrey DeMunn as Willy Loman and Robin Moseley as Linda. Photo Credits: Henry DiRocco

25

Scenic Design22

Arthur Miller’s play is an example of non-linear storytelling. The play moves between the past and present, between the real space of the Loman home and the place of Willy Loman’s mind. Marion Williams, the scenic designer, comments that designing a stage for Death of a Salesman, presented certain challenges: “Death of a Salesman was written for a proscenium stage with the audience on one side of the room, looking at the play on the other. The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre is in the round” (Williams, p. 9). If all of Miller’s described furniture pieces were to be placed in the White Theatre, the stage would be full and the actors would have no place to walk! So Williams designed a set that was a combination of fixed architechtural elements of a house (such as the kitchen) and some fluid elements of a house (e.g., window panes that move up and down, a staircase that emerges and disappears). The areas designated as interior locations (within the house) are separated from the exterior by a series of stepped platforms. The kitchen symbolizes the heart of the house (marked by a kitchen table, chairs and a refrigerator) and is the only space that does not transform. Every other part of the stage remains fluid and represents different spaces at different moments of the play, representing at times present realities of the scenes and at other times, the world of Willy Loman’s mind.

22

For more information on scenic design read Marion William’s article in The Old Globe’s program for Death of a Salesman, available at http://www.theoldglobe.org/_upload/productions/pdf/SalesmanProgramWeb.pdf

26

Theatre Etiquette
Your students are representatives for your school when you are at the theatre. The pointers below will help you prepare your students for their visit to The Old Globe. Please take the time to educate your students on appropriate behavior at the theatre. 1. Arrive on time The time posted is the time the show actually starts... unlike at the movies, there are no commercials or previews! If you have arrived after the performance has begun you may be asked to wait to take your seats until it is appropriate to do so. Since parking can be a challenge, we suggest you plan on arriving in Balboa Park one hour prior to the scheduled start time. 2. Keep the theatre clean We allow no food or drinks in the theatre. However, after the show you may picnic on the plaza or eat at the tables in front of Lady Carolyn's Pub. 3. Be considerate of other audience members Talking, whispering, shuffling about in your seats or rattling candy wrappers during a live performance is disruptive to other audience members who are trying to enjoy the show. 4. Do not distract the actors The actors can see and hear what goes on in the audience. While our actors appreciate your enthusiasm for their performance, please do not attempt to interact with, talk to or touch them while they are on stage or entering/exiting via the aisle. If you need to take notes for your class, please make sure you are not seated in the first three rows as it can be extremely distracting to the actors. Your comments to one another (both good and bad) can be heard by the actors. Please do not talk about their performances while the show is going on. 5. Turn off electronic devices Pagers, cell phones and electronic watches are disruptive and may interfere with the theatre sound system. The lights from text messaging are distracting to the actors. Turn electronic devices off completely during the show. 6. Remain seated during the performance (except for emergencies) Actors frequently enter and exit via the aisles and so for safety reasons the aisles need to remain clear during the show. Be sure to use the washroom before the show or during intermission. 7. No photographs or recording devices For the safety of cast members, stage crew and the enjoyment of other patrons, no photography (flash or no flash) or recording devices are permitted during the performance. It is also illegal, since we are bound to the copyright rules of several labor and artists’ unions. Avoid a situation in which the house manager might be forced to confiscate photographic equipment. With your cooperation in preparing your students to follow theatre etiquette, rules and guidelines, we are sure you and your students will have an enjoyable and entertaining theatre experience!

27

ACTIVITY 3: DIALOGUE

23

Write your own Dialogue
The language of a play is called its dialogue. In a magazine interview, Miller once commented that playwriting is “an auditory experience. That’s the difference between the novelist and the playwright. The novelist sees the work, the playwright hears it.”24 In this activity students will get an opportunity to try to be a playwright. For this activity, students will read parts of Death of a Salesman or any of Arthur Miller’s plays to familiarize themselves with the format of playwriting and dialogue writing. After that, they will be encouraged to try writing a dialogue themselves. Students should choose two characters (either fictional or nonfictional) that they would center their dialogue on. Depending on the needs and interests of the class or curriculum that the class may already be studying, a theme could be decided upon, such as school, neighborhood, dreams, family, American Civil War, romance, etc and then the students would write a dialogue between two individuals within the context of that theme. Encourage students to experience their writing in an auditory manner by saying it out loud or in their head as they are writing it so that the dialogue is authentic and sounds as if two people are having a conversation rather than reading out prosaic, overly verbose lines. For this exercise, students should focus more on the authenticity of the dialogue rather than conventional norms of grammar or punctuation. After the students have completed this exercise, these readings (or selected ones) could be performed as staged play readings.

ACTIVITY 4 : SPACE & PLACE
25

Recreate your Classroom Space
For every theatrical production, The Old Globe (and any other theatre) stage is reimagined to create a unique space appropriate to the particular play being staged. For this activity, students will (in agreement with the teacher) reimagine their classroom as an alternate space. Some examples could be: playground, mall, highway, home, etc. The purpose of this activity is to get the students to reflect on how space influences their daily experiences. This activity may require the rearrangement of furniture and the reimagination of the existing objects as 23

Visual and Performing Arts Standards for California Public Schools, Theatre VAPA 2.1, 2,2, 2,3: Development of Theatrical Skills, Creation/Invention in Theatre. 24 Simi Horwitz, “Arthur Miller: On the Play, Actors, and Producers,” Backstage, November 26, 2003. Retrieved on November 30, 2010, from http://www.allbusiness.com/services/amusement-recreation-services/4569446-1.html 25 Visual and Performing Arts Standards for California Public Schools, Theatre VAPA 2.1, 2,2, 2,3: Development of Theatrical Skills, Creation/Invention in Theatre.

28

theatrical props to create the illusion of the new space. Explain theatre vocabulary words: Set and Prop26. For this activity they will be creating an alternate set and reusing objects as props to create an illusion of a new space. For examples, a table may be used as a cash register and a students could stand behind it to create the space of a clothing store. Students may also create two different spaces in two areas of the same classroom space. Students could play with the light, add different sounds, create different backdrops. After the creation of the new space, ask the students to place themselves in the space as a character in the space. For example, if they are creating a mall, they could choose to be a consumer/shopper or a store owner or a security guard or a café employee. Follow this activity with a discussion about how the reimagination of the classroom space made the students feel. Ask: “How do we feel when we are in different spaces? Why?” Encourage them to draw on their experiences with this activity and give examples. Allow ample time after the activity for clean up and rearrangement of furniture to their original or desired place.

Set Design by Marion Williams for Death of a Salesman at The Old Globe, January/February, 2011

Theatre Vocabulary Words Dialogue: Dialogue in theatre is a verbal exchange between two or more characters. Prop: Short for ‘(Theatrical) Property’, it refers to objects used in a play. Set: A set in theatre refers to the backdrop and the environment in which a play takes place. It is a symbolic representation of the setting of a play. Set designers work on designing or envisioning what the set will look like on stage and they collaborate with the director of production to create the set.

26

Visual and Performing Arts Standards for California Public Schools, Theatre VAPA 1.1. Development of Vocabulary of Theatre.

29

LIFESKILLS
In Death of a Salesman, Miller masterfully integrates the personal with the social27. For example, Biff calls Willy a “fake” a few times in the play. This word has a couple of implications in the play. Willy is a “fake” for cheating on his wife; he is also a “fake” salesman in that he has not been able to make any sales. Moreover Willy’s values are “fake” since they stem from his “phony dream”. However on closer inspection, we see that Willy’s infidelity stems from his loneliness, which isn’t merely personal since it stems from the unique demands of his occupation- traveling salesman. We see that his anxiety about his life and his son’s futures stems not just from his own circumstances but from the pressure he experiences from the American success ethic and his belief in the American Dream. Through the play we see Willy employing strategies (successfully or unsuccessfully) to cope with the pressures of his life as a traveling salesman in America. Through an exploration of the themes of this play (either after reading or viewing the play), students may be encouraged to think of the various lifeskills that they employ or could employ to cope with the various personal and social pressures they face in their lives. Below are two lifeskills themes for further exploration. These could be discussions or one-on-one interviews where students interview another person and ask the questions outlined below. Explain to the students that these are some of the questions that Death of a Salesman deals with, but these are also universal issues that are relevant to us all28,29.

ACTIVITY 5: Discussion/Interview- Pressures of Daily Life
What kind of pressures do you face in your life? Are these pressures particular to your life or do you think this is something that you share with others? How do you cope with these pressures? Do you think you are successful in adapting to these pressures?

ACTIVITY 6: Discussion/Interview- Expectations, Accomplishments, and Regrets What are your expectations for the future? What are your family’s expectations from you? Do these two sets of expectations differ? How so? How do you see yourself in 10 years? 20 years? Looking back at your life, what do you feel you have accomplished? What do you feel proud about? Do you have any regrets? Is there something that you wish you had done differently?

27

Edward Murray (2003). The Thematic Structure in Death of a Salesman. In Thomas Siebold’s (Ed.) Readings on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven. 28 Visual and Performing Arts Standards for California Public Schools, Theatre VAPA 5.1. Connecting and Applying what is learned in Theatre to Other Art Forms and Subject Areas and to Careers. 29 English Language Arts Content Standards. Speaking Strategies. 2.1 Deliver reflective presentations: a. Explore the significance of personal experiences, events, conditions, or concerns, using appropriate rhetorical strategies (e.g., narration, description, exposition, persuasion). b. Draw comparisons between the specific incident and broader themes that illustrate the speaker’s beliefs or generalizations about life. c. Maintain a balance between

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