THE PRICE

by Arthur Miller
26 Jan - 06 March 2009
 
 
in Memoriam My family has a long history with this play. I first played Solomon 15 years ago at Arena Stage in Washington DC. Jim Sikking, one of my colleagues from Hill Street Blues played Walter. I next played the role in 2004 at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. I shared the stage with three Irish actors all of whom had impeccable American accents.

The present production started in Cape May, New Jersey in the summer of 2005.† We have a summer home there, and my two actor sons (the third is an artist/teacher) grew up spending their summers in that house. Cape May Stage is a small theater located in the town and since my sons were of an age when they could play Walter and Victor, I thought it would be nice to get the whole family together for a summer and do The Price. So that’s what we did. The family assembled – me, my wife, my sons and their wives,† grandchildren, dogs, cats, in fact, as Zorba says, “the whole catastrophe” – and lived for the summer in our 130 year old rambling Victorian farmhouse.† It has one bathroom. It’s a good thing we’re a close family.

I knew my sons were good but I hadn’t realized that they were THAT good. We broke all box office records for that small theater, received standing ovations every night, and were very quickly picked up for productions in Philadelphia and Washington DC. The Walnut Street Theatre was our home in Philadelphia. It’s the oldest theater in the United States. The first production there, She Stoops to Conquer, was attended by Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette and almost every important American actor of the last 200 years has appeared on that stage.

Our next stop was at Theater J in Washington DC. That theater is about as large as Vienna’s English Theatre and the whole family agrees that the play works best in a theater of that size.

During the run at Theater J my son John who was playing Walter had to fly back and forth to Los Angeles to continue doing a role in a television series. We were quite fortunate to find Gary Sloan, a fine actor, to play Walter for about one third of the run. In fact, it was Gary who was playing the role when the representative of Vienna’s English Theatre saw the play and that led to the offer for us to perform it in Vienna. Gary says he is an honorary Prosky. Leisa Mather who shares that dubious honor with him, has played Esther throughout this production’s history. We are fortunate to have both of them with us here in Vienna.

It’s a great play. In the Arthur Miller canon I consider it second only to Death of a Salesman. The subtext of the play is almost biblical. Miller did not choose the name Solomon by accident. After 15 years of working on the play I am still finding new aspects. I’m sure you will do the same.

Robert Prosky