Vale Arthur Miller

American playwright Arthur Miller has passed away at the age of 89. A writer who helped shape the face of American theatre, Miller’s voice will be a continual presence for many generations to come and will probably remain on the HSC curriculum for many more years. Like many school students Miller’s The Crucible was my introduction to live theatre and I can still recall the powerful impression it had upon me.

While Miller will be remembered for his turbulent marriage to Marilyn Monroe and for his courageous stance against the UnAmerican Activities Commission, something ironically he could easily have avoided if he had allowed his then wife to visit his inquisitors. It will hopefully be for his work that he will be remembered. Whether that is the fierce integrity of John Proctor or that figure so synonymous with the American depression Willy Loman, his characters will continue to have a life in many people’s imaginations.

At a time like this it almost feels like I should get out my guitar and play some mournful tune in a Hungarian minor, which would emulate what I did as a 16 year old after the dramatic conclusion of Miller’s play. But that now seems like such a banal gesture to his passing.

Also if you enjoyed Miller’s plays you should also check out the work of his daughter, short-story writer/actress/film director Rebecca Miller who recently did a fine job adapting her short-story collection Personal Velocity to the big screen.

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7 Responses to Vale Arthur Miller

  1. Rafe says:

    Go for it Stephen, it is a fine thing to recall the sensation of horizons being opened up for a 16 year old by a great writer. I think it would not be a banal gesture but a heartfelt, deeply personal tribute.

  2. Amanda says:

    Sad.

    Doing The Crucible at high school had a big impact on me too. It was the character of Hale who continues to live with me. John Proctor gets to have his big moment and die a heroic martyr, whereas Hale has to live with the messiness and struggle on with the system and his own conscience. Always resonated with me much more.

  3. Nabakov says:

    “…for his work…” Well I didn’t know Marilyn’s husband wrote plays. I thought he was a baseball player.

    Incidentally, what are such ideologically loaded works like “The Crucible” and “Death of Salesmen” doing on school curriculums now? The kids could get quite the wrong idea about group dynamics, political hysteria and the hollowness of finding inner peace through the relentless pursuit of capital.

    Bonking Marilyn’s another matter though.

  4. jen says:

    ha ha and if you get much more PC than this old boy I think I’ll spew.

    the tribute is coming …. Arthur Miller the moral chronical of his time.

  5. Rafe says:

    Stephen, an afterthought, I suggest you offer your musical tribute when the other people are out of the house.

    This is based on my experience in playing my favorite bagpipe recordings.

  6. David Tiley says:

    The man was a titan. And they put him to the question and he stood up to them.

    The Crucible is one of those great works with a transparent surface, a fantastic narrative arc and the ability to confront deeply scarey things about people. It works fabulously when you are sixteen – like Lord of the Flies and 1984. All of which are enduring works which still stand up to a read when we are adults. I think that is a pretty special achievement.

  7. James Hamilton says:

    “The man was a titan. And they put him to the question and he stood up to them.

    Yeh, he really suffered. A fine playwright, lionised all his life.

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