Monday, January 22, 2007

Arthur Miller v. Thornton Wilder

From Today In Literature:

On this day, fifteen years apart, Arthur Miller's The Crucible (1953) and Thornton Wilder's Our Town (1938) premiered. Although both were poorly reviewed to start, The Crucible would win a Tony and Our Town a Pulitzer; and both would become not only classics of American theater, but classic, opposite statements on the idea of community living.

Read the story.

The Skin Of Our Teeth, in which prehistoric animals are characters

While Wilder's optimism has long been out of fashion, his dramaturgy continues to be more "modern" than many American plays you see today. Wilder had a greater influence on European playwrights than American, many of whom still write plays in a way that would better be served on film. I have never seen the point of writing a play that would make a better film. A theatrical method is what sets good plays apart, in my view. You can't make a good film from The Skin Of Our Teeth (unlike Miller's work, which uses a more old-fashioned dramaturgy); the best you can do is film the play.

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