What do you think would be the greatest challenges in staging a real performance of Death of a Salesman?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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By “real” I assume you mean a stage presentation rather than in the mind’s eye.  The primary problem is that the dramatic conflict is imbedded in a lifestyle that is very out of date, while the characters seem contemporary in psychological makeup.  In other words, even though the social situation – a traveling salesman feeling the pressure to maintain his quota of sales – could be updated, the family structure cannot.  Though on the surface we could still represent the two sons, the father, etc., what cannot easily be dramatized is the way the father’s job affects his status in the family.  The play is now a period piece, as opaque as an Elizabethan play, but without a universal theme that can be updated with impunity.  It is “dated” in the worst way, and to today’s audience seems maudlin and petty, as opposed to tragic and cathartic, especially the dialogue.  We can blame television for watering down family drama, especially drama that resides in a business environment as well.  Staging the play now would be like going to a museum of 1940-50 memorabilia – quaintly interesting but not “dramatic.”  Plays of this type are only staged as educational tools.  To see a 1985 attempt for television, see link below.

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