Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Fishkill Correctional Facility, Beacon, NY 2014
Brother Ben exhorts Willy Loman.

Brother Ben exhorts Willy Loman.

In the first half of 2014, I directed Death of a Salesman at Fishkill Correctional Facility, under the auspices of Rehabilitation Through the Arts.

Mid-curtain call for director and cast.

Mid-curtain call for director and cast.

With my incarcerated assistant director, Johnny Hincapie, I wrote the following for the playbill:

Willy Loman says, of his sons, “I got a couple of fearless characters,” to which his neighbor, Charley, responds, “the jails are full of fearless characters.”

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman resonates with the goals of Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA): just as Willy’s son, Biff, struggles with shame, deceit, disappointment, self-doubt and even self-loathing as he tries to find his own path and create his own definition of success, so the men of RTA strive to transform themselves. Through perseverance, identification, communication, compassion, team work and supporting one another in moments of doubt and difficulty, RTA participants begin to find their voices and to imagine new possibilities for themselves in ways that only Biff, among the Lomans, is able to do.

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Shakespeare can transform a human heart.
– Curt Tofteland, Shakespeare Behind Bars

You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation…
--The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i