Press Release - Death of a Salesman
Shattered Middle Class Dreams Open SCR’s 50th Season: Death of a Salesman
COSTA MESA, Calif. – It’s not just about American fathers and sons; Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, as noted by Variety, has “themes that are universal.”
Miller’s classic drama opens South Coast Repertory’s milestone 50th season, with actor Charlie Robinson as Willy Loman and a dramatically diverse cast. The show runs on the Segerstrom Stage Aug. 30-Sept. 29. Tickets are available online: www.scr.org.
Willy Loman was once the best traveling salesman in his territory; but time is catching up with him, and old age is slowing him down. Linda, his wife, hopes he can stay put for a while and work in New York; after all, she thinks his years of service to the company have earned him that right. Willy knows that the key to success is to be well-liked, and he struggles to understand why his adult sons, Biff and Happy, have failed to learn that lesson. As Willy tries to instill in his sons the values he has lived by, he clings tenaciously to his version of the American Dream—even as he watches it quickly slip away.
For SCR Artistic Director Marc Masterson—who directs SCR’s third production of Miller’s play—the decision to stage it came up over lunch with actor Charlie Robinson.
“I asked him, ‘Who do you want to play? What are the great roles that you feel challenged by?’” Masterson recalled. It was a great topic for Masterson and his long-time actor friend. “I believe that when artists are challenged, they have the opportunity to do their best work. And Charlie said he wanted to do Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.”
Robinson is no stranger to characters who struggle with a changing world; he won raves from SCR audiences and critics alike for his SCR portrayals of Troy in Fences and Becker in Jitney.
Playwright Miller directed a production of Death of a Salesman in China, with Chinese actors. While there, he kept a journal about his experiences and noted how the actors found the play resonated well with Chinese culture; for example: how Willy tries to make his sons successful. Members of the Beijing cast said that Chinese fathers always want their sons to be “dragons.”
In addition to Robinson, SCR’s production features Larry Bates, Chris Butler, Gregg Daniel, Celeste Den, Tracey A. Leigh, Becca Lustgarten, Georgina E. Okon, Tyler Pierce, Christopher Rivas, Kim Staunton, James A. Watson and Tobie Windham.
The design and creative team includes Michael Raiford, scenic design; Holly Poe Durbin, costume design; Brian Lilienthal, lighting design; Jim Ragland, composer/sound design; Josh Marchesi, production manager; and Jamie Tucker, stage manager.
Death of a Salesman is generously supported by Honorary Producers Sophie and Larry Cripe and Alan and Olivia Slutzky. The Corporate Honorary Producer is U.S. Bank.
This is the third time that SCR has produced Death of a Salesman; earlier stagings were during the 1968-69 and 1997-98 seasons.
ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. One-quarter of SCR’s 525 productions have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org