News Release — July 30, 2007
Ransom Center Displays Unseen Materials Related to American Playwright Arthur Miller
The first major exhibition on Arthur Miller, one of the great masters of American theater, will be presented by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin from Sept. 4 to Dec. 30.
More than 150 items from the playwright's archive, many of them never previously displayed, are featured in the exhibition "Rehearsing the American Dream: Arthur Miller's Theater."
"This is the first exhibition drawn from Arthur Miller's entire archive and includes material acquired just before his death in 2005," said Helen Adair, associate curator of performing arts at the Harry Ransom Center. "Among the treasures not previously seen by the public are materials related to Miller's tenuous relationship with Elia Kazan, the American director who infamously named names in his testimony to the communist-hunting House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952. The exhibition also illustrates Miller's formidable gifts as a playwright through such canonical works as 'Death of a Salesman' and 'The Crucible.'"
The exhibition demonstrates Miller's engagement with his times and examines his work as an activist and intellectual, his plays in performance and his legacy.
"Arthur Miller's work both as a playwright and an activist on behalf of intellectual freedom is recognized internationally," said Charlotte Canning, guest curator of the exhibition and professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin. "His ongoing engagement with major events of the 20th century provides an extraordinary interpretation of those events.
"His representations of the Depression, Cold War, McCarthy trials, Holocaust and other such events in his various plays and essays can further anyone's understanding of the effects of those events on ordinary people and everyday lives. The presence of his papers on this campus means that students and the public have an amazing opportunity to understand Miller's creative processes from his initial ideas to full-fledged productions."
The exhibition includes a clipping of an advertisement published by Kazan in the New York Times the day after his testimony in 1952 before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Though Miller never said publicly what he thought of Kazan for having named names, he did dispute Kazan's statement by writing notes in the margin of the clipping. In response to Kazan's claim in the ad that he valued various freedoms and "above all, individual rights," Miller simply noted, "which you have forfeited."
Other highlights from the exhibition include a page from the original manuscript of "The Crucible" and a page from the FBI's file on Miller that claims he was the "sponsor of numerous communist front organizations" from 1946 through 1950.