The 20th century was miserable. I can’t say that from personal experience – my cognitive awareness reached its peak when I turned six in 1999. I also can’t say that the 20th century was more or less miserable than any other century. Every place and time has its own troubles, on both individual and community scales. What I can say, however, is that the (American) 20th century’s particular variety of misery yielded a slew of depressing and gloomy literary works. Among this canon, and, in fact, perched at the very height of melancholy, rests Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
Though I claim it’s existence stems from the inspirational time period, Death of a Salesman exists as a sad and soulful work in perpetuity. Touching on father-son relationships, the American Dream, disillusionment, old age, and corporate mentality, the play breaks down each of its viewers’ carefully constructed and idealistic worlds. It is, in a word, timeless.
In almost exactly one week, you can see this phenomenon for yourself. That’s right: it’s happening here at St. Joe’s. The SJU Theatre Company is putting on its very own performance of the play, running from April 16-April 26.
If you’re not enticed to come merely by the chance to observe an entire theatre full of teary-eyed audience members, come for an equally miraculous reason: the chance to observe yours truly behave like a mid-century housewife.
Apron and all.
Now, why on Earth, you ask, would I begin a self-promoting advertisement with a sentence including the word “misery?” You see, unlike many other people, I believe that sadness and anger and upset are the most powerful, if not the only, emotions worth having.
That’s not because I’m self-destructive, or “angsty.” Okay, yes, I’m being hyperbolic, but the fact of the matter is that anger and sadness are strong driving forces for change. They are the beginning of inspiration, its motivation and pick-me-up along the way, and its satisfaction at the end of a creative journey. To a playwright especially, producing the strongest emotions is equivalent to achieving the highest goal. The hope is that those emotions turn into a well-formed, impassioned cry of “do something!”
So instead of going to see Ludacris next Thursday, come see what we’ve thrown our hearts and souls into. It’s sure to pull at your heartstrings, and, I hope, to entertain as well.