On Politics and the Art of Acting

ISBN-10: 0670030422
ISBN-13: 9780670030422
Edition: 2001
Authors: Arthur Miller
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Description: Ronald Reagan might have been the first professional actor elected president, but as Arthur Miller reminds us in his delightfully acerbic, On Politics and the Art of Acting, Reagan was by no means the only actor to occupy the White House in modern  More...

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Book details

List price: $15.00
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 10/1/2001
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 96
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.25" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.396
Language: English

Ronald Reagan might have been the first professional actor elected president, but as Arthur Miller reminds us in his delightfully acerbic, On Politics and the Art of Acting, Reagan was by no means the only actor to occupy the White House in modern times. Beginning with our latest farcical election, Miller considers the twin arts of acting and politics in our brave new Age of Entertainment and contrasts the relatively poor thespian skills of presidential candidates Bush and Gore with the consummate art practiced by some of the great masters of the modern American political stage: Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At once witty, wise, and deeply provocative, On Politics and the Art of Actingis essential reading for Arthur Miller's fans and anyone seriously interested in the American political scene.

The son of a well-to-do New York Jewish family, Miller graduated from high school and then went to work in a warehouse. His plays have been called "political," but he considers the areas of literature and politics to be quite separate and has said, "The only sure and valid aim---speaking of art as a weapon---is the humanizing of man." The recurring theme of all his plays is the relationship between a man's identity and the image that society demands of him. After two years, he entered the University of Michigan, where he soon started writing plays. All My Sons (1947), a Broadway success that won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1947, tells the story of a son, home from the war, who learns that his brother's death was due to defective airplane parts turned out by their profiteering father. Death of a Salesman (1949), Miller's experimental yet classical American tragedy, received both the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1949. It is a poignant statement of a man facing himself and his failure. In The Crucible (1953), a play about bigotry in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, Miller brings into focus the social tragedy of a society gone mad, as well as the agony of a heroic individual. The play was generally considered to be a comment on the McCarthyism of its time. Miller himself appeared before the Congressional Un-American Activities Committee and steadfastly refused to involve his friends and associates when questioned about them. His screenplay for The Misfits (1961), from his short story, was written for his second wife, actress Marilyn Monroe (see Vol. 3); After the Fall (1964) has clear autobiographical overtones and involves the story of this ill-fated marriage as well as further dealing with Miller's experiences with McCarthyism. In the one-act Incident at Vichy (1964), a group of men are picked off the streets one morning during the Nazi occupation of France. The Price (1968) is a psychological drama concerning two brothers, one a police officer, one a wealthy surgeon, whose long-standing conflict is explored over the disposal of their father's furniture. The Creation of the World and Other Business (1973) is a retelling of the story of Genesis, attempted as a comedy. The American Clock (1980) explores the impact of the Depression on the nation and its individual citizens. Among Miller's most recent works is Danger: Memory! (1987), a study of two elderly friends. During the 1980s, almost all of Miller's plays were given major British revivals, and the playwright's work has been more popular in Britain than in the United States of late.

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