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Updated 11:00 AM March 22, 2004
 

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Playwright Arthur Miller plans visit to U-M


World-renowned playwright and U-M alumnus Arthur Miller will return to campus for "A Conversation with Arthur Miller" April 1.

Miller will speak about his experiences at the University and the challenges and rewards of being a playwright, in a discussion facilitated by Mark Lamos, visiting adjunct professor in theater, and Enoch Brater, professor of English. The event is sold out.
(Photo courtesy School of Music)

Miller is visiting campus in conjunction with "An Arthur Miller Celebration," a production of his well-known and rarely performed works being produced by the Department of Theatre and Drama of the School of Music.

Conceived by Lamos, an internationally acclaimed director, the production highlights the depth of work Miller has contributed to the American and world stage. "An Arthur Miller Celebration" plays at 8 p.m. April 2-3 and April 8-10, and 2 p.m. April 4 and 11 at the Trueblood Theater in the Frieze Building.

Miller is a Pulitzer Prize winner, recipient of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and winner of the nation's most distinguished arts award, The Kennedy Center Honor. He visits his alma mater occasionally to meet and work with students in the theater program. He last visited campus in 2000 when the University mounted The Arthur Miller International Symposium, "Arthur Miller's America: Theater and Culture in a Century of Change."

A native of New York City, Miller graduated from U-M in 1938. He initially studied history and economics, but earned a degree in English. While at U-M, Miller won two prestigious Hopwood Awards for playwriting before graduating and moving back to New York, where he survived the failure of a Broadway play and found moderate success with two books.

His first theatrical success came in 1947 when "All My Sons" ran for 328 performances on Broadway. That triumph was followed by the Pulitzer Prize for "Death of a Salesman" in 1949 and his successful 1953 production, "The Crucible."

Miller says of his journey from U-M student to playwright: "In 1936, as a student at the University of Michigan, the National Youth Administration (NYA) paid me $15 a month to feed a couple of thousand mice in a cancer research laboratory. I washed dishes for my meals, but without that NYA money, I couldn't have paid my room rent and would no doubt have had to leave school. Jobs in those times were next to impossible to find.

"In 1938 when I graduated I managed to get into the WPA Writers Project—$22.77 a week—for six months until the project was shut down. In that time I wrote a tragedy for the stage about the conquest of Mexico and perhaps more important, managed to break into writing for commercial radio. The government's help in both instances was brief but crucial."

Lamos currently is directing the West Coast premiere of Miller's newest work, "Resurrection Blues" at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. Lamos's work has been seen at U-M as a consulting director for "Hamlet," "The Tempest" and in a developmental staged reading of Lee Blessing's "Thief River." As a director, Lamos has collaborated on developing scripts for theater and opera with acclaimed playwrights such as Tom Stoppard, A.R. Gurney, Tony Kushner, Lanford Wilson and composer John Harrbison, including the world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera of "The Great Gatsby."

Lamos has worked at numerous regional and international theatres, including directing "Desire Under the Elms" at Moscow's Pushkin Theater, making him the first American to direct a Russian company in the former Soviet Union. His extensive work in opera includes new productions for the Met as well as numerous productions for New York City, San Francisco and Glimmerglass operas.

Brater is is well-known internationally for his seminal studies of Samuel Beckett and other modern dramatists, and has lectured widely around the world and at major university campuses and theater festivals throughout the United States and Canada. He has two new books on Miller slated for publication later this year and a third planned for publication next year.

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