Under humorous approaches to the controversy, file the following contribution from a reader:
January 28, 1949:
A potential Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman" an acclaimed drama about the dark side of the American dream, has been postponed because of concerns about the show's political content.The production had been tentatively scheduled to start performances at the Morosco Theatre on February 10. But yesterday, Elia Kazan, the play's director, said he had decided to postpone the show after polling local Republican party and community leaders as to their feelings about the work."The uniform answer we got was that the fantasy that we could present the work of this writer simply as a work of art without appearing to take a position was just that, a fantasy," he said.
In particular, the recent atomic test by the USSR and the upset victory of President Harry Truman had made "this community very defensive and very edgy," Mr. Kazan said, "and that seemed reasonable to me."The play follows the story of Willy Loman, an aging salesman who is beginning to lose his grip on reality.
The play was written by playwright Arthur Miller. And while the show had not been formally announced, Mr. Miller said yesterday that he had already arranged for relatives to fly in for the production."I was devastated and really surprised," Mr. Miller said in a telephone interview. "And in my view, I think they're misjudging the New York audience. It's a piece of art, not a piece of agitprop."But Mr. Kazan said he was less worried about those who saw the show than those who simply heard about it."I don't think we were worried about the audience," he said. "I think we were more worried that those who had never encountered his writing, never encountered the piece, would be using this as an opportunity to position their arguments."
Mr. Kazan said that he still hoped to produce the play during the 1950-51 season but that he hadn't heard back from Miller."It seemed as though if we proceeded, we would be taking a stand we didn't want to take," Kazan said.