Exploring a classic: Theater department examines 'Death of a Salesman'

Posted by Jessica Strasser

The Skidmore College department of theater will present an exploration of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" from Oct. 22-24 as well as Oct. 28-31. Directed by Phil Soltenoff, a former Skidmore faculty member, this current production aims to show a new take on an American classic.

"Death of a Salesman" is the story of Willy Loman, an aging salesman losing hope in the American dream he cherished for so long. Willy, his wife Linda and sons Biff and Happy are slowly torn apart by a series of tragedies. The Lomans experience several heartbreaks and personal devastations that test the strength of the family.

Miller's tragedy has been cited as a classic and has become one of the most widely read and performed plays in American theatrical history.

"Death of a Salesman" is often portrayed in a realistic manner, with accurate sets and costumes for the 1940s time period. Skidmore's current exploration, however, aims to bring a new perspective to the piece. The entire production is centered on a TV production of "Death of a Salesman" filmed in 1966. Through the use of monitors and sound, the actors will attempt to perform this film live.

Mimicry of actions, camera angles and sound are used to create as full a replication as possible. By utilizing and mixing this technology with classic acting style, this production explores the power and ability of the actor.

In addition, the juxtaposition of modern day technology with a video of a show from the past, 1966, examines the influence that the past exerts on future decisions. The past and present occur simultaneously, creating a unique theatrical experience.

Chairman of the Department of Theater, Lary Opitz, was thrilled when Soltenoff proposed the idea of performing this reinterpretation. Opitz emphasized the timeliness of the production with a highly-reviewed revival starring Christopher Lloyd as Willy.

A trip to see Lloyd in Vermont allowed students to experience a more traditional take on the play.

"Death of Salesman" is assistant directed by Colleen Hughes '11. It stars Varak Barovian '14 as Bernard, Zazie Beetz '13 as The Woman, Anthony Bentrovato '11 as Willy Loman, Paul-Emile Cendron '13 as Hap, Sara Jane Munford '11 as Linda Loman, Jeremy Ohringer '13 as Charlie, Giancarlo Osaben '11 as Ben/Stanley, Andrew Rousso '13 as Biff, Alison Schaufler '14 as Letta/Jenny, Dan Shure '14 as Howard and Grace Troxell '13 as Miss Forsythe.

The scene designer is Garret Wilson, the costume designer is Jenna Glendye '11 and the lighting designer is David Yergan. Danielle Rodino '11 is the stage manager.

All shows begin at 8 p.m., except for Sunday matinees, which begin at 2 p.m.. Those hoping to see the show should contact the Skidmore Theater Box Office at boxoffice@skidmore.edu.

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