Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

The American Clock

Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

The American Clock

Article excerpt

Redtwist Theatre

Chicago, IL

18 April-17 May 2015

Directed by Jan Ellen Graves

The American Clock is Arthur Miller's twenty-second play. It is, according to the publicity, "a mural for the theater" based on Studs Turkel's Hard Times, a book that illustrates the effects of the Great Depression on people's lives through a series of memoirs and interviews. The scenes do not all connect dramatically with each other, which seems to be why the word "mural" is used when describing the work. Recently produced by the Redtwist Theatre in Chicago, this is the second Miller play I have seen at this venue, the first being Broken Glass, several years ago.

The theater is an interesting one, made up of two long, thin storefronts in Chicago's Edgewater District a few blocks away from Lake Michigan and an "L" station. One front is about twelve feet wide and thirty feet long with the stage along the side. The seats are three deep, with the back row raised up like bar stools. The back has an exit into the other storefront.

All the action was staged along the sidewall, which was painted "brick" It was variously a living room, a street corner, a welfare office, a union hall, and a piano bar. Stage designer Eric Luchen and lighting designer Katheryn Lesko effected these changes with ingenuity. The space is small, thin, and long, but they use the whole thing. Costumes were by Allison Smith, who proved to be an effective secondhand Rose.

Of course the visual perspective of the audience also changes with each scene. Some scenes are played at one end, some at the other, and some in the middle. …

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