The University Record, April 22, 1998
Miller. Photo courtesy Special Collections Library
By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services
President Lee C. Bollinger and his wife, artist Jean Magnano Bollinger, will lead a contingent of U-M supporters to New York City later this month to cheer on a Michigan champion who's not an athlete--playwright Arthur Miller. After a dinner with the U-M graduate and his wife, photographer Inge Morath, the Michigan contingent will attend a performance of Miller's new play Mr. Peters' Connections.
Miller was able to attend U-M in the 1930s with financial assistance from the National Youth Administration, which paid him $15 a month to feed a couple thousand mice in a cancer research laboratory. As a student Miller washed dishes for his meals and worked as night editor for the Michigan Daily, and says he no doubt would have had to leave the University had it not been for the assistance of the federal program. Because of that experience, in 1985 the two-time winner of U-M's prestigious Avery Hopwood Award established the Arthur Miller Award to aid aspiring writers with their U-M studies. The award includes a $1,000 tuition credit.
Miller's 1949 play, Death of a Salesman, remains his most famous work.
His current work is being performed by New York's Signature Theater Company. It stars Peter Falk as a retired pilot to whom the world is not quite what it was, nor, he suspects, is he. Haunted by the past, Mr. Peters finds his grasp on the day-to-day elusive, and the future simply unfathomable. The Signature Theater Company has devoted its entire season to Miller's plays. Mr. Peters' Connections will have a limited 40-performance run April 28-June 21.
Miller, who continued a lengthy correspondence with Prof. Kenneth Rowe after leaving the University, has returned to campus on several occasions. He served as a judge in the 1948 drama competition, delivered the Hopwood Lectures in 1963 and 1980, and in 1974 brought his play, Up from Paradise, to the U-M for its premiere performance.
Manuscripts of Miller's early plays and his letters to Rowe can be viewed in the Special Collections Library on the seventh floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library. The Special Collections Library, which has mounted an exhibit on Avery Hopwood and the Hopwood Awards, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays.