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A View from the Bridge

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A View from the Bridge

A View from the Bridge
First edition cover.
Written by Arthur Miller
Date premiered September 29, 1955
Place premiered Coronet Theatre (now Eugene O'Neill Theatre)
New York City
Original language English
Genre Greek Tragedy
Setting The apartment and environment of Eddie Carbone

A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller, first staged on September 29, 1955 as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The play was unsuccessful and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this version is the one with which audiences are most familiar today.[1] The two-act version premièred in the New Watergate theatre club in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook on October 11, 1956.

The play is set in 1950s America, in an Italian American neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It employs a chorus and narrator in the character of Alfieri. Eddie, the tragic protagonist, has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine. Miller's interest in writing about the world of the New York docks originated with an unproduced screenplay that he developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s (entitled The Hook) that addressed corruption on the Brooklyn docks. Kazan later directed On the Waterfront, which dealt with the same subject. Miller said that he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridge from a lawyer who worked with longshoremen, who related it to him as a true story.

Contents

  • Synopsis 1
  • Production history 2
    • Premières 2.1
    • Revivals in New York 2.2
    • Revivals in London 2.3
  • Adaptations 3
    • Film 3.1
    • Television 3.2
    • Opera 3.3
  • Awards and nominations 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Synopsis

Act 1 - Mr. Alfieri, a lawyer in the small Brooklyn community of Red Hook, narrates the story of Eddie Carbone, an Italian American longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice and her orphaned niece Catherine. He warns the audience at an early point that Eddie's story is a tragic one, memorable for its impact on the community. Eddie is protective and fatherly towards Catherine, who is undertaking study to become a stenographer, a venture which is funded by Eddie. However, he is resistant to letting her grow up, shown early on as he objects to her taking a job without fully finishing her course. Beatrice, on the other hand, is more supportive of Catherine's ventures, recognizing she needs to be her own woman, and often acts as a mediator between the two. Eddie returns home one afternoon with the news that Beatrice's two cousins, brothers Marco and Rodolfo, have safely arrived in New York as illegal immigrants. He has agreed to house them. Marco is quiet and thoughtful, possessing a remarkable strength, whereas Rodolfo is more unconventional, with plans to live off a career singing in America. Marco has a family starving in Italy and plans to return after working illegally for several years, whereas Rodolfo intends to stay. Although Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine are at first excellent hosts, cracks appear when Rodolfo and Catherine begin dating, without Eddie's permission. Due to his protective nature, he is unhappy with this.

Rodolfo gains a reputation with his colleagues for his effeminate nature, which includes singing and the fact he has blonde hair. A rumour suggests that he may be homosexual, worrying Eddie as he begins to believe that Rodolfo is expressing interest in Catherine so he can marry her and gain status as a legal citizen. Beatrice is troubled by his suspicious nature, as he becomes withdrawn and they stop sleeping together. Her advice is rejected, and Eddie instead turns to Alfieri for advice, begging for a way to stop Rodolfo and Catherine's romance without revealing Rodolfo and Marco's status as an illegal immigrants. In doing this, Eddie and his family would be quickly shunned out of society. Increasingly desperate with no potential resolution, Eddie takes his anger out on Rodolfo in teaching him to box, and 'accidentally' injures him, causing Marco to quietly threaten him, showing his strength by holding a heavy chair above his head with one hand.

Act 2 - Eddie's paranoia increases, and reaches breaking point when he discovers that Catherine and Rodolfo have slept together and are intent on marrying. Drunk, he attempts to prove that Rodolfo is gay by suddenly passionately kissing him; he also kisses Catherine, an action which prompts Beatrice and Alfieri to become suspicious he has romantic feelings towards his niece. Beatrice arranges for Marco and Rodolfo to move in with two immigrants in the flat above, while Eddie preaches to Alfieri that he believes that the kiss has proved to him that Rodolfo is gay and is only marrying Catherine for citizenship. He then phones immigration services, who arrive and arrest Marco, Rodolfo and the two other immigrants promptly, with the neighbours gathered around. Although Eddie puts on an act that the move is a complete surprise to him, Beatrice and Marco see through this, and Marco spits in Eddie's face in front of everyone, accusing him and taking away Eddie's pride.

Alfieri visits Marco and Rodolfo in custody, releasing them on bail until their trial in six weeks. Rodolfo plans to marry Catherine immediately, suggesting he will be allowed to stay, whereas Alfieri warns Marco that he has no chance. Vengeful, Marco confronts Eddie publicly on his release, and Eddie turns on him with a knife, demanding that he take back his accusations and restore his honour. In the ensuing scuffle, Eddie is stabbed with his own knife and dies, with his family and neighbourhood standing around him.

Production history

Premières

The one-act, verse version of A View from the Bridge opened on Broadway on September 29, 1955 at the Coronet Theatre (now the Eugene O'Neill Theatre). It ran for 149 performances. This production was directed by Martin Ritt and the cast included Van Heflin as Eddie and Eileen Heckart as Beatrice.[2] Its two-act version premièred in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook. It opened at the New Watergate theatre club (currently Harold Pinter Theatre) on October 11, 1956 and the cast included Richard Harris as Louis and Anthony Quayle as Eddie,[3] with lighting design by Lee Watson.

Revivals in New York

Dustin Hoffman acted as assistant director and stage manager for a successful 1965 production of the play Off-Broadway at the Sheridan Square Playhouse in New York City. The play's director, Ulu Grosbard, suggested to Arthur Miller that Hoffman would one day make a great Willy Loman (a role that Hoffman would later play to great acclaim). Miller was unimpressed and later wrote that "My estimate of Grosbard all but collapsed as, observing Dustin Hoffman’s awkwardness and his big nose that never seemed to get unstuffy, I wondered how the poor fellow imagined himself a candidate for any kind of acting career."[4] Another production in New York opened on February 3, 1983 at the Ambassador Theatre, with Tony Lo Bianco as Eddie and directed by Arvin Brown. It ran for 149 performances.[2] An award-winning production in New York opened on December 14, 1997 at the Criterion Center Stage Right and subsequently transferred to the Neil Simon Theatre. It ran for 239 performances. It was directed by Michael Mayer and the cast included Anthony LaPaglia, Allison Janney, and a young Brittany Murphy.[2][5] The production won the Tony Award for: Best Revival of a Play; Best Leading Actor in a Play (LaPaglia); it also won Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Janney), and Outstanding Direction of a Play. A revival at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 2009 starred Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Hecht. The limited, 14-week engagement, directed by Gregory Mosher, began with previews on December 28, 2009 and officially opened on January 24, 2010. It ran until April 4, 2010.[2][5][6] Johansson won a Tony Award for her performance.

Revivals in London

The National Theatre of Great Britain staged a production in 1987 at the Cottesloe Theatre. It was directed by Alan Ayckbourn and Michael Gambon gave an acclaimed performance as Eddie. Time Out called the production "near perfect" and the New Statesman called it "one of the finest events to be presented at the National Theatre since it moved to the South Bank."[7] Another West End production was staged at the Duke of York's Theatre, opening in previews on January 24, 2009 and officially on February 5. It ran until May 16, 2009. It was directed by Lindsay Posner, with Ken Stott as Eddie, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Beatrice, Hayley Atwell as Catherine and Harry Lloyd as Rodolfo.[8] The production subsequently toured the UK. In 2014, Belgian director Ivo van Hove and lead actors Mark Strong (as Eddie), Phoebe Fox (Catherine), and Nicola Walker (Beatrice) revived the play to huge success at the Young Vic.[9] This revival won three Laurence Olivier Awards in April 2015, for Best Actor (Mark Strong), Best Revival and Best Director (Ivo van Hove). In June 2015 it was announced that the Young Vic's revival of the play would transfer to Broadway with the original London cast from late October 2015 until late February 2016.

Adaptations

Film

Italian film director Luchino Visconti directed a stage version of the play in Italy in 1958. The plot of his film Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli), made in 1960, has many affinities with A View from the Bridge.[10]

A French-Italian film based on A View from the Bridge titled Vu du pont was released in February 1962. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film starred Raf Vallone and Maureen Stapleton as Eddie and Beatrice, with Carol Lawrence as Catherine.[11] The film was the first time that a kiss between men was shown on screen in America, albeit in this case it is intended as an accusation of being gay, rather than a romantic expression.[12]

In 2005, a new film version of A View From the Bridge was announced to be directed by Barry Levinson, with Anthony LaPaglia as Eddie, Scarlett Johansson as Shannon, and Frances McDormand as Beatrice,[13] but it never went into production. In January 2011, Variety reported that another version of the film was scheduled to begin shooting in June in Melbourne and New York with new director Robert Connolly and a cast featuring LaPaglia, Vera Farmiga, Mia Wasikowska and Sam Neill,[14] but it never went into production after Miller's daughter Rebecca rejected LaPaglia's request to extend the rights to the film that had expired on October 11, thus officially ending the project.[15]

Television

On 4 April 1966, ITV aired View from the Bridge as its "ITV Play of the Week", of which no copies survive.

In 1986, the BBC aired a TV dramatisation of the play produced by Geoff Wilson.

Opera

Renzo Rossellini, the brother of film director Roberto Rossellini, was the first to adapt the play into an opera with his Uno sguardo dal ponte, which premiered at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in 1961. In 1999, another operatic version, with music by William Bolcom and a libretto by Arthur Miller, premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago starring Kim Josephson as Eddie Carbone. The work was performed subsequently at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002, again at the Washington National Opera in 2007, and by Vertical Player Repertory Opera in 2009, starring William Browning as Eddie. The opera was first performed in Europe at Theatre Hagen in 2003 in German translation. The first English (original) language version produced in Europe opened at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in Rome, Italy on January 18, 2011

Awards and nominations

Awards
Nominations
  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
  • 2010 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
  • 2010 Olivier Award for Best Revival

References

  1. ^ Christopher Bigsby, The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, pp.104–108, Cambridge University Press, 2010 ISBN 0-521-74538-1.
  2. ^ a b c d A View from the Bridge at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. ^ Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge / All My Sones (London: Penguin, 1961), p.9; Arthur Miller, Introduction to Plays: One (London: Methuen, 1988), p.51.
  4. ^ "Dustin Hoffman Biography". Tiscali. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  5. ^ a b  
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneth."'View From the Bridge' Ends Limited Broadway Engagement" playbill.com, April 4, 2010
  7. ^ A View From The Bridge: Reviews (Original Ayckbourn Production, National Theatre, London, 1987)
  8. ^ "A View from the Bridge' listing, 2009, Duke of York's Theatre thisistheatre.com, retrieved April 4, 2010
  9. ^ Barnett, Laura, "A View from the Bridge review – 'visceral and vital'" The Guardian, 12 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  10. ^ Rohdie, Sam (1992). Rocco and His Brothers – Rocco e i suoi fratelli. British Film Institute Publications. 
  11. ^ Vu du pont at the Internet Movie Database
  12. ^ Russo, Vito (1986). The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality In The Movies. Harper & Row. p. 138.  
  13. ^ Michael Fleming (15 February 2005). "The Bigscreen 'View': Cast, Helmer Set for Miller Play Adaptation". variety. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  14. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (18 January 2010). "'"Farmiga, Wasikowska join 'Bridge.  
  15. ^ Don Groves (13 October 2011). "Window shuts on A View from the Bridge". SBS Film. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 

Further reading

  • Miller, Arthur (1955). A View from the Bridge: Two One-Act Plays (1st ed.). New York:  

External links

  • A View from the Bridge at the Internet Broadway Database
  • A View from the Bridge at the Internet off-Broadway Database
  • A View from the Bridge from SparkNotes
  • A View from the BridgeEnglish Literature: from the BBC's GCSE Bitesize
  • A View from the BridgeStudying Arthur Miller's from eriding.net
  • A View From The BridgeUnderstanding from aresearchguide.com
  • A View from the Bridge study guide, themes, quotes, teacher resources from shmoop.com
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