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Death Of A Salesman
Actors Theatre San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
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Death Of A Salesman
In 2010 The Denver Post conducted a national survey of one hundred and seventy-seven theater experts in order to compile a list of the ten most important American plays. Death of a Salesman topped the list as the single most important American play. Why should the story of Willy Loman resonate so strongly with the American audience?  Certainly Willy who has been called a "working class Oedipus Rex", does not fit the standard criteria of a tragic hero. He is not a great or powerful person destined through a flaw of character to meet his destruction. He is a drummer, a salesman, "riding on a smile and a shoeshine".  One flaw of character is certainly evident early on when he  rhapsodizes over "the American dream" to his sons. He has obviously wholeheartedly bought into a vision of "the American dream" that equates wealth with virtue, possessions with self-worth, "being well liked" with success. But the play is so much more than an indictment of an economic system governed by abstract principles rather than human need.

Willy's inability to reconcile the hopes he had for his life with the reality of the one he actually lived is the flaw that does him in. And there is perhaps is the source of resonance for the audience. Willy anguishes over "the road not taken" as embodied in his long dead brother Ben. "When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God, I was rich."

The play moves seamlessly through time and place, from the present into the past and into the fantasies in Willy's head unhindered by any consideration of  "The Unities". And Willy can not be said to achieve self realization certainly not like his son, Biff, "Pop, I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!" But there is a deluded nobility and even majesty when Willy roars back, "I am not a dime a dozen. I am Willy Loman and you are Biff Loman!" And it is enough to break your heart.

ATSF's production is directed by Keith Phillips and Assistant Directors Kevin Daniels and Delinda Dane; Light design by Rachel Klyce, Technical Director James Baldock and set design by Chris Phillips; featuring: Randy Blair, Marvin Glass, Karen Goldstein, Christian Haines, Sean Hallinan, John Krause, Chris Phillips, Jessica Risco, Carole Robinson, and Nick Russell.



Actors Theatre San Francisco (View)
855 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
United States


Arts > Theatre

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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