Tuesday, October 17, 2023

#290 / What Would Happen...?


Death of a Salesman, authored by playwright Arthur Miller in 1949, is a quintessentially "American" play.  Click the title link for a version available on YouTube. That video rendition stars Dustin Hoffman and Kate Reid

I am penning this brief blog posting to alert those who may be reading it to an article that appeared in the "Arts" section  of the October 16, 2023, edition of The New York Times. That day, the "Arts" section of The Times devoted most of its front page to what the newspaper called "the Taylor Swift phenomenon." The Times' article about Swift (who is a quintessentially "American" performer, at least in my estimation) made specific reference to the recent film, "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour." Read up on that, if you'd like (if you are not already supersaturated with Swift's tour, the film about the tour, and her apparent new romance with Travis Kelce). 

I am actually trying to point you to a much smaller article that appeared on the front page of The New York Times "Arts" section on October 16, 2023. That article, authored by Christopher Kuo, was headlined, "'Death of a Salesman,' The Mandarin Version." The title you will see if you click the link I have provided is slightly different, but the link will get you to the article I am talking about, provided that The Times' paywall doesn't block your access. 

News I didn't know (until I read that article): "In 1983, Arthur Miller faced a herculean task: staging his 1949 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, 'Death of a Salesman,' in Chinese, with an all-Chinese cast and crew, in Beijing." As Kuo tells it, "rehearsals became exercises in cross-cultural exchange." The play, again according to Kuo's account, "eventually drew rapturous audiences to dozens of performances in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, and was a watershed for U.S.-China cultural relations." Now, there is a new play, Salesman Zhisi, written by Jeremy Tiang, which is about the remaking of Death of a Salesman into an all-Chinese version. If you happen to be in New York City, the play is at the historic Connelly Theatre in the East Village, and will run through October 28th. 

Here's why I am talking about this recent effort (again, quoting The New York Times article): 

“This play is an example of international cross-cultural collaboration I fear we don’t see enough of,” Tiang said during a video call. “What would happen if we did try to find a way to work together, rather than just sticking to our own patch of language and culture (emphasis added)?”

What would happen, indeed? 

As the world seems to be lurching towards the apocalypse, in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and in Asia (to name only three areas in which our ability to live together in peace is being put into urgent question), it seems clear to me that we do have to make an attempt, at least - we need, at the very least, to try - to "find a way to work together....."

As another "Traveling Salesman" of a very different variety once put it (citing to my very own Facebook profile): 

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