Arthur Miller classic now onstage at Ensemble Theatre
Arthur Miller’s meditation on the American dream, “Death of A Salesman,” is now running on Ensemble Theatre's Main Stage. The play explores the life and times of the iconic Lohman family, their tragic losses and unending quest for the next sale. In celebration of Arthur Miller’s centenary, Ensemble Theatre presents this American classic, directed by Celeste Cosentino and featuring Greg White as Willy Lohman.
Ensemble opens this two-act drama on a set designed by Ron Newell. The play kicks off Ensemble's 2015–16 season, the theme of which is A Rebirth of Wonder. According to Cosentino, the theme was borrowed from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “I Am Waiting”:
I am waiting for my case to come up/and I am waiting/for a rebirth of wonder/and I am waiting for someone/to really discover America/and wail . . .
“As in Ferlinghetti’s poem, Willy is waiting for his own rebirth of wonder. Perpetually waiting to own a business, to not be on the road, to make enough to own his house. He is waiting for the American dream, and for his sons to make good on that same dream,” said Cosentino. “That waiting is tempered by moments of almost indomitable hope and belief and other moments of clear-eyed realistic understanding of a world that is not what he hoped it would be. As Willy says, ‘after all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.’”
Miller’s tale echoes Greek tragedy. As elder son Biff’s idealism dies, it is reborn in his younger brother, Hap. Hap promises, “I'm gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Lohman . . . had a good dream. It's the only dream you can have—to come out number-one man.” Can Hap redeem his father? Or is there something beautifully human in the effort of living itself?
Ensemble continues it’s commitment to color-blind casting with a talented cast of 13 Cleveland based-actors: Greg White, Mary Alice Beck, Keith E. Stevens, Johnathon L. Jackson, Stephen D. Hood, Joe Milan, James Rankin, August Scarpelli, Kayla Davis, Emily Gray, Kayla McDonald, Faith Whitacre and Whit Lowell. Lighting design is by Steven Barton and Ian Hinz, with set construction by Stephen Vasse-Hansell.
“What a pleasure it has been working on this Pulitzer Prize winner and truly iconic American classic play," said Cosentino. "The actors and the theater become a place for us to share the experience of the human condition and this play is definitely one of the most monumental of those types of plays. Miller would have been 100 years old this year. We celebrate his centennial with his masterpiece.”
The production runs through Oct. 11, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through Ensemble’s website, www.ensembletheatrecle.org, or by calling the box office (216-321-2930). Ensemble Theatre is located at 2843 Washington Blvd., in the former Coventry School building.
Ian Hinz is a Cleveland Heights resident, operations manager and artistic director of Cain Park, and operations manager for Cleveland State University's music department.