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.