This powerful, Olivier Award-winning, and Tony-nominated drama is presented as part of a national celebration of the centennial of the birth of playwright Arthur Miller. It is November 11, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht, when Sylvia Gellburg loses the ability to walk. Her husband Phillip desperately seeks to find the cause. After consulting Dr. Harry Hyman, it’s determined that her paralysis may have been psychosomatically induced. Hyman’s obsession with curing Sylvia uncovers a complex tangle of egos, resentment, and guilt, as well as Phillip’s own paralyzing struggle with his Jewish identity.
Click here to read the program online!
BENJAMIN EVETT* returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Good, Broken Glass, Assassins, On the Verge, Camelot (2014 IRNE Award, Best Actor in a Musical), Amadeus, Cherry Docs, Opus, Indulgences, A Christmas Carol, Quills, A Girl’s War, and Jerusalem, and directing RENT. He recently won the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance 2015 for Albatross with The Poets’ Theatre, where he is also Executive Director. He has appeared in Freud’s Last Session and God of Carnage (co-produced with Arizona Theatre Company and San Jose Rep). He was a member of the ART Resident Acting Company from 1993 to 2003, performing in over 50 productions including Waiting for Godot, The Bacchae, Phedre, and Six Characters in Search of an Author. He has performed at Missouri Rep, Virginia Stage Company, Alley Theatre, Taiwan National Theatre, and Moscow Art Theatre. He is Founding Artistic Director of Actors’ Shakespeare Project, where he played Coriolanus, Hamlet, Petruchio, Edmund, and Caliban.
CHRISTINE HAMEL* has appeared at New Rep in Ideation, Brecht on Brecht, Broken Glass, On the Verge, Ragtime, and Sweeney Todd, directing God Box, and dialect/voice coaching many productions, including Golda’s Balcony, Tongue of a Bird, Camelot, The Elephant Man, Amadeus, Holiday Memories, and The Kite Runner. Recent area credits include The Women Who Mapped the Stars (workshop, Poets’ Theatre); Tongue Tied Tight, and Delivered (workshop, Huntington Theatre Company); A Disappearing Number (Underground Railway Theater); The Penelopiad (Boston University School of Theatre); Season’s Greetings and Our Town (Wellesley Repertory Theatre); and The Glass Menagerie (Boston Center for American Performance). Regionally, she performed the role of Emma Darwin in Trumpery (Olney Theatre Center). Ms. Hamel is an Assistant Professor of Voice/Speech and Acting at Boston University. She is a Designated Linklater Voice teacher, and holds a Teaching Certificate in the Michael Chekhov acting technique. She currently resides in Arlington.
MICHAEL KAYE* returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Good, Broken Glass, The Elephant Man, Amadeus, Opus, House With No Walls, and Silence. He also appeared in Good this past summer Off-Broadway (PTP/NYC). Other area credits include Mothers and Sons and Clybourne Park (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Uncle Jack, Monster, The Glass Menagerie, and Good (Boston Center for American Performance); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Book of Days (Lyric Stage Company); and various productions at Huntington Theatre Company and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. Mr. Kaye serves as Assistant Professor of Acting at Boston University School of Theatre, where he earned both his BFA and MFA in Acting and Theatre Education respectively. Born in Chicago, he now lives in Sandwich, NH.
JEREMIAH KISSEL* returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Fiddler on the Roof, Broken Glass, The King of Second Avenue, Imagining Madoff, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Twelfth Night, and Hard Times. Last season in Boston he also appeared in King Lear, Ulysses on Bottles, and Exposed. Screen credits include The Town, The Fighter, The Great Debaters, Stronger, and Joy. He is the recipient of two Elliot Norton Awards (1990, 2014), two IRNEs, and the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence (2003).
JIM PETOSA (Director, Artistic Director) joined New Repertory Theatre as an award-winning theatre artist, educator, and leader in 2012. He has served as Director of the School of Theatre, College of Fine Arts, at Boston University since 2002, and Artistic Director of Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center for the Arts and its National Players educational touring company (1994-2012). While at Boston University, he established the Boston Center for American Performance (BCAP), the professional production extension of the Boston University School of Theatre, in 2008. Throughout the Northeast, Mr. Petosa has directed for numerous institutions, including The Gift Horse, Brecht on Brecht, Good, Freud’s Last Session, The Testament of Mary, Broken Glass, Assassins, On the Verge, The Elephant Man (IRNE Nomination), Amadeus, Three Viewings, The Last Five Years, and Opus at New Rep. In Boston, his work was nominated for two IRNE awards for A Question of Mercy (BCAP). He has served as one of three artistic leaders for the Potomac Theatre Project (PTP/NYC) since 1987. In Maryland, his work earned over 25 Helen Hayes Award nominations as well as the award for outstanding direction of a musical for Jacques Brel is Alive and Well… His production of Look! We Have Come Through! was nominated for the Charles MacArthur Award for outstanding new play, and he earned the Montgomery County Executive’s Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Award for Outstanding Artist/Scholar. A member of Actors’ Equity Association, Mr. Petosa has served on the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for StageSource. Originally from New Jersey, he was educated at The Catholic University of America and resides in Quincy.
*member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
**member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Inc., an independent national labor union
***member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829
|Tuesday, August 18|
|“Meet and Greet” the cast, designers, crew and New Rep Staff, then hear a read-through or sing-through of the play.|
|Wednesday, September 2 at 3pm|
|Observe 30 minutes of the company’s first day rehearsing on the Charles Mosesian Theater stage, followed by a conversation with New Rep artistic staff.|
|Examining Arthur Miller:
How Life Influences Art
|Sunday, September 20 following the 2pm matinee|
|MODERATOR: Sara Bookin-Weiner
Manager of Outreach, New Center for Arts and CulturePANELISTS:Sue Abbotson
Professor of Modern and Contemporary Drama, Rhode Island College
Performance Editor, Arthur Miller Journal
Board Member, Arthur Miller SocietyJoshua E. Polster
Associate Professor of Theatre, Emerson College
Former President, Arthur Miller Society
Author, Reinterpreting the Plays of Arthur MillerDavid Palmer
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Humanities Department
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Vice President, Arthur Miller Society
Click here to read “Tragedy and the Common Man,” a 1949 essay by Arthur Miller in the New York Times.
Arthur Miller and Broken Glass
program notes by Beth Gilchrist, edited by Ruth Spack
Born a century ago, on October 17, 1915, Arthur Miller grew up in a grand apartment overlooking New York City’s Central Park. A chauffeur drove his father, a Polish Jewish immigrant, to his coat manufacturing business every day. When the family lost all of their savings in the 1929 stock market crash and the business failed, the family had no choice but to relocate to a lower-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. Miller delivered bread before school every morning to help pay the bills. Deeply affected by the tensions that arose in his family as a result of their changed circumstances, he spent the rest of his life exploring how ordinary people cope, how they survive, in the face of social and economic devastation.
After graduating high school, Miller worked for two years in an auto-parts warehouse to save money for college. He chose the University of Michigan (where a neighbor had gone) for its affordability, distance from Brooklyn, and support of writers. Miller entered the university to study journalism but switched his major to English and won awards for his first plays, which helped cover his tuition. Following his graduation in 1938, he participated in the Federal Theater Project, a New Deal program, until Congress canceled its funding a year later in response to the leftist political tone of several of its productions. Miller then wrote radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS. During this time, he worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard but relied on the secretarial salary of future wife, Mary Grace Slattery (1940-1956), who encouraged him to write. Miller’s first Broadway play, The Man Who Had All The Luck (1944), closed after six performances but nevertheless won the Theatre Guild National Award.
Arthur Miller achieved success in 1947 with All My Sons, for which he earned his first Tony Award, and soon after, in 1949, with the career-defining Death of a Salesman. As biographer Martin Gottfried wrote of him, “If he had written only Death of a Salesman, it would have been enough to establish him among the giants of drama.” Other major works for the theatre include The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge (1955), After the Fall (1964), and The Price (1968). Miller also wrote screenplays, fiction, and non-fiction. “When I want to state clearly what I believe, I write an essay,” he once said. “If I’m exploring a human dilemma, I write a play.”
Among Miller’s many notable awards are the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Kennedy Center Honors, Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society. Until his death in 2005 at age 89, Miller continued to write and produce plays, some highly successful.
Miller gained recognition not only for his writing but also for his political stance. In 1956, he refused to comply with the request of the House Un-American Activities Committee to name friends and colleagues with whom he’d attended Communist Party meetings in the 1940s. As a result, he was found in contempt of Congress, fined, and denied a renewal of his US passport. His conviction was overturned on appeal. Although he was blacklisted, his plays continued to be performed. The Actors’ Equity Association resisted the McCarthy era blacklist.
Married three times, most famously to actress Marilyn Monroe (1956-61), Arthur Miller fathered four children. His third marriage, to photographer Inge Morath, lasted forty years, until her death in 2002.
Growing up, Arthur Miller celebrated the Jewish high holidays with his family, occasionally went to synagogue with his grandfather, and became a bar mitzvah. He later rejected organized religion and identified as an atheist. Yet he retained a strong Jewish identity, forged significantly by his acute sensitivity to anti-Semitism, which he referred to as “a rather normal feature of everyday life.” Miller’s co-workers at various jobs were often anti-Semitic, though they did not necessarily exhibit open hostility toward him. Elite colleges and universities used a quota system to limit the number of Jews they admitted. The host of a nationally popular radio show in the 1930s, Father Charles Coughlin, attacked Jews explicitly in his weekly broadcasts, even quoting Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister. Twenty-three-year-old Miller was deeply shaken by the news of Kristallnacht (1938), the Night of Broken Glass, when rampaging mobs burned down hundreds of synagogues and smashed the windows of thousands of Jewish-owned storefronts across Germany. His work would eventually address the threat of violence underlying American anti-Semitism.
From the beginning of his career, Miller created Jewish characters and explored Jewish themes in a variety of genres. His first play, No Villain (1936), centers on a Jewish immigrant family, the Simons, who have fallen on hard times. His novel, Focus (1945), tells the story of an anti-Semite whose life is transformed when he’s mistaken for a Jew. Incident at Vichy (1964), a stage play, portrays the Nazis’ search for Jews to send to the death camps. Miller’s first short story collection, I Don’t Need You Anymore (1967), features several Jewish characters struggling with their identity. His television script, Playing for Time (1980) draws on the autobiography of a female prisoner at Auschwitz recruited by the Nazis for the camp orchestra. Broken Glass (1994) is set in Brooklyn at the time of Kristallnacht.
Miller made the Jewish identity of his characters explicit when it was thematically necessary to illuminate the Jewish experience in particular as well as the human experience in general. Yet, even when he did not identify his characters as Jewish, critics and audiences alike often assumed they were, especially Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman. Over the course of his life, Miller changed his response to the question of Willy’s religion, at one time stating that the Lomans were not Jewish and later calling the Lomans “Jews light-years away from religion or a community that might have fostered Jewish identity.”
Questioned in 1966 about how the Jewish tradition of his childhood might have influenced his writing, Miller said:
I never used to, but I think now that, while I hadn’t taken over an ideology, I did absorb a certain viewpoint. That there is tragedy in the world but that the world must continue: one is a condition for the other. Jews can’t afford to revel too much in the tragic because it might overwhelm them. Consequently, in most Jewish writing there’s always the caution, “Don’t push it too far toward the abyss, because you’re liable to fall in.” I think it’s part of that psychology and it’s part of me, too. I have, so to speak, a psychic investment in the continuity of life. I couldn’t ever write a totally nihilistic work.
Click here for a bibliography.
WHAT THE WORLD KNEW IN 1938
by Adrienne Boris
“Whatever the actual level of hostility to Jews that I was witnessing, it was vastly exacerbated in my mind by the threatening existence of Nazism and the near absence among the men I worked with 14 hours a day of any comprehension of what Nazism meant – we were fighting Germany essentially because she had allied herself with the Japanese who had attacked us at Pearl Harbor.” Playwright Arthur Miller, from his 1984 introduction to the 1945 novel Focus.
Broken Glass is set in Brooklyn, New York, in the days immediately following Kristallnacht, a series of pogroms in Germany literally meaning “Night of Broken Glass”, which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938. Over the course of twenty-four hours, 1,000 Jews were killed, and more than 30,000 Jews had been arrested, which amounted to a tenth of all German Jews. Americans were certainly aware of the events overseas; the New York Times published a front page article just one day after the pogroms with the headline, “NAZIS SMASH, LOOT, AND BURN JEWISH SHOPS AND TEMPLES UNTIL GOEBBELS CALLS HALT”. The lead story, by Otto Tolischus, went on to report, “A wave of destruction, looting, and incendiarism unparalleled in Germany since the Thirty Years War and in Europe generally since the Bolshevist Revolution, swept over Great Germany today as National Socialist [Nazi] cohorts took vengeance on Jewish shops, offices, and synagogues for the murder by a young Polish Jew of Ernst vom Rath, third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris.” There was no doubt in the minds of the American populace that storm clouds were gathering over Germany.
When viewing these events through our own historical hindsight, it is important to remember that World War II had not yet begun. Many Americans held fast to an admiration and respect for “Great Germany”, a country known for its contributions to art, literature, and philosophy. Few could believe that such a great nation could fall prey to evil so quickly. By 1933, while Americans were aware of the National Socialist (Nazi) party, including their anti-semitic platform, until Kristallnacht, the Jewish death toll did not outnumber that of Communists, socialists, trade unionists, or other groups considered undesirable by the Hitler regime. It would still be another four years before the true scope of Jewish fate would reach America. Though Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, responded with chagrin to the Nazi party’s policies, they may have also espoused a kind of patient fatalism and even skepticism — the world had seen threats and difficulties before and had recovered, surely this, too, would pass. Unfortunately, as war broke out, less, not more, attention was paid to the fate of Europe’s Jews. The beginnings of a complex, international military theatre drove Jewish persecution from the limelight. While the Kristallnacht headline had lingered on the front page of the New York Times for more than a week, the Jewish death toll was never again highlighted so prominently.
In 1930s Brooklyn specifically, there existed a robust Jewish population alongside gatherings of groups such as the “Friends of New Germany,” an organization comprised of American Nazi sympathizers from all over the Eastern seaboard, whose first meeting took place in 1934. On August 12, 1935, the New York World Telegram reported that 1,100 Nazi sympathizers (most of them German-Americans) lived in Ridgewood, Brooklyn. In 1935, The American National Socialists League, another group of Nazi sympathizers, was established. Many German-Americans were not outward Nazi supporters, yet chose not to speak out against the party. Perhaps they opposed the American boycott on German goods and services or enjoyed the robust program of social and athletic activities, ranging from soccer teams to camping trips, offered by National Socialist organizations in Brooklyn. On March 13, 1938, Brooklyn’s Congressional Representative, Emanuel Celler, spoke on the radio and stated his alarm at the rapid spreading of the Nazi ideology. He stated, “Within the last week, [the Nazis] have captured complete control of the old German American societies which for five years put up a stiff fight against the Nazi invasion. In Los Angeles, New Jersey, Brooklyn…Nazi officials took over the united German societies lock stock and barrel…” A month later, but still several months before Kristallnacht, Charles Weiss, editor of a Brooklyn anti-Nazi magazine, was attacked at the offices of the Anti-Communist Anti-Fascist and Anti-Nazi League, where he worked. He was found badly beaten with swastikas etched into his back after a group of men whom he described as “German in appearance” broke in, pinned his arms behind him, and demanded that he kiss a small Nazi flag.
While some Americans did harbor concern and often outrage for the fate of Jews and other persecuted populations overseas, the United States did not officially increase its refugee quotas. After Anschluss, Hitler’s annexation of Austria, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called an international conference on Jewish refugees. However, he stipulated that, “no state would be expected to receive greater number of emigrants than is permitted by existing legislation.” At this same conference, France complained that it was already saturated with exiles, and Canada pushed for tightening of quotas in order to compel Nazi Germany to solve the “Jewish problem” themselves. Even after Kristallnacht, in 1939, Great Britain and the United States banded together to ask Germany to halt a Jewish mass emigration to Shanghai, in an attempt to placate Japan. Diplomatic maneuvers such as these would continue until war officially broke out later that same year.
By the end of the war in 1944, approximately six million Jews would die in concentration and labor camps, ghettos, and in their own communities. While statistics were reported by 1945 in the pages of The New York Times and other major American newspapers, they were rarely sized more than a column’s width, and the final death toll never received a cover story.
“In 1938 the World Knew”
“Nazism in 1930s Brooklyn”
Miller, Arthur. Focus. Westminster: Arbor House Publishing Company, 1984.
Novick, Peter. The Holocaust in American Life. Boston: Mariner Books, 2000.