It’s been too long since we’ve written and there’s been some trouble with me being able to post notices here, alas, and too bad, as we approach the one year anniversary of this blog. We’ve got something quite special here with Arthur Miller’s THE PRICE. Alas, again, my lengthy post was just gobbled up by this site and we’ve lost half of my breathless reporting on the drama of last night’s opening night performance.
Moreover, we lost the report on the incredibly exciting preview period we all enjoyed over the weekend leading up to last night, with box office records shattered once again for a preview period, rousing standing ovations unlike anything we’ve seen since Theo Bikel in THE DISPUTATION, and the palpable pleasure and relief of the cast realizing that DC and Theater J are proving to be the perfect fit for this show.
But the drama of last night, to reconstruct briefly (if much less stylishly), as that Bob Prosky fell on the sidewalk yesterday afternoon and cut his lip, scraped the top of his head, got a black eye and wasn’t sure he’d be able to go on. It was touch and go up until curtain. And Bob felt worst of all about all this because he knew what a wonderful production was taking hold here in DC – proving itself to be even more, so much more fulfilling than the Philadelphia run at the wonderful but huge Walnut Street Theatre.
The chatter, after all, on DC theater listserves had been incredible after just four previews. Here’s but one of the many emails sent to us over the last few days; this from the Footlights site:
I saw the Price on Sunday at Theater J in Washington DC.In a word, it was superb.Very complex family drama and revelations… An added touch, the cast features real life father and two sons, Andrew, John, and Robert Prosky. Ah. Arthur Miller is a master.The play was written 40 years ago and is still poignant and relevant for today. Treat yourself to see this play at any price. It’s worth it!
Theater J is running interesting series of Sunday afternoon discussions on the play at 5:30 pm, between the 3:00 matinee and 7:30 pm shows. Very interesting topics.
So the chatter is out there; really, all over the place. And the family–the Proskys, that is–has been so relieved, so happy, that this experiment is really paying off in spades.
So how disappointing for Bob to be in such pain last night, bleeding from this lip and inside his mouth, really writhing… And at 77+, not quite as resilient a bull as he once was; he’d tell you so himself.So what does he do? Well, first we cover our bets. The family wants me to go out and let the opening night audience know that there may be a possibility that we’ll have to stop the show. If Bob can’t make it through, he’ll just walk off stage, and someone will take over. Who’s that someone? ME!!! So I take Bob’s script. And I’m in the front row.
AND NOBODY IN THE WORLD WANTS TO SEE ME TAKE OVER THAT ROLE, NOT EVEN FOR A SECOND, NOT EVEN FOR A JOKE.
And fortunately, it doesn’t come to that. Bob comes out, and delivers a heroic performance, earning a Theatrical Purple Heart Award and a rousing standing ovation. and it’s not just for him but for his sons; for this entire production; for Arthur Miller’s searing play. It’s an achievement. And Bob is on the mend. Visiting the doctor today too, of course. And we’ll see what’s what. But the production is something to be proud of. And something to see!Here are my opening night comments before the show, sans the unscripted announcement…
In one of his most famous essays, TRAGEDY AND THE COMMON MAN, written almost 60 years ago, Arthur Miller wrote, “It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history—that the plays we tend to revere century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the optimistic belief in the perfectibility of man—and that we follow that thread to the only place it can lead in our time – to the heart and spirit of the average man.”
We are reminded by events on this day that we live in a time without kings. Even the people who remind us of this, our Great Authors and celebrity noble man, are not without their own contradictions, hypocrisies. The art and the life of Arthur Miller make us aware of this profound truth; that we can be wise and full of achievement
Even as we betray that achievement.
“We invent ourselves to wipe out what we know,” a character will tell us tonight in The Price. Has there ever been a wiser, more prophetic line, about America? Or about ourselves?
Let us not be in denial about what we appreciate most tonight: the giants amongst us; the fabulous human beings. We begin with our author, and welcome him back; welcome him home, to one of many places where he will forever belong. And to the family at the center of this drama and this production, the Proskys, welcome back to DC and welcome to your new home at Theater J.
And to the Angels who’ve made this production possible, wise and wonderful theater lovers all, welcome back, welcome aboard. This is a homecoming artistically and spiritually as well. We’ve all needed to rediscover, or reconnect with this play. And we’re very proud to be producing this work here. Let’s go back to 1968, a time when there were no Trios or blackberries; no watches that went beep in to the night. And of course, no cell phones. This is Old School. Pay attention.