THE STORY: Subtitled "a mural for the theatre," the play employs a series of vignettes and short scenes, with the actors portraying some fifty-two characters, to capture the sense and substance of America in the throes of the Great Depression. The central figures are the Baums, a wealthy family whose fortune has vanished in the stock market crash, but their story is amplified and illuminated by brief glimpses of other lives; a farmer who has lost all in the dust bowl; a prostitute who exchanges her favors for dental work; a white Southern sheriff in thrall to a black short-order cook; a young man who dreams of success on Tin Pan Alley, etc. Moving deftly from scene to scene, some funny, some movingly poignant, the play becomes a deeply affecting evocation both of a tortured time in American history and of the indomitable spirit of the people who survived and prevailed in the face of unaccustomed adversity.
Presented at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and then on Broadway, this brilliantly theatrical, kaleidoscopic study of America during the early years of the Great Depression constitutes a major work by one of our theatre's truly important writers. "After far too long an interlude, Arthur Miller is back in touch with his best subject, the failure of the American dream, and back on top of his talent." —NY Times. "…the same kind of intimate, inner-voice writing that made DEATH OF A SALESMAN a masterpiece." —NY Post. "It's warm, funny, interesting…" —Variety.