Death of a Salesman

Reception

As a play, Death of a Salesman has been performed in many countries. Receptions to the play have differed between countries:

Death of a Salesman in America

Death of a Salesman first opened on February 10, 1949, and won great success. It was regarded as one of the finest dramas of American theatre. John Gassner said that “The ecstatic reception accorded Death of Salesman has been reverberating for some time wherever there is an ear for theatre, and it is undoubtedly the best American play since A Streetcar Named Desire.” This great success is what allowed the play to travel to other countries.[9]

Death of a Salesman in the United Kingdom

The play reached London on July 28, 1949. Its responses in London were mixed, but more favourable. The Times criticized it, saying that “the strongest play of New York theatrical season should be transferred to London in the deadest week of the year.” However, the public understanding of the ideology of the play was different from that in America. Many people, such as Eric Keown, think Death of Salesman as "a potential tragedy deflected from its true course by Marxist sympathies".[9]

Death of a Salesman in Germany

The play was hailed as “the most important and successful night” in Hebbel-Theater in Berlin. It was said that “it was impossible to get the audience to leave the theatre” at the end of the performance. The Berlin production was more successful than New York, possibly due to better interpretation.[9]

Death of a Salesman in India

Compared to Tennessee Williams and Beckett, Arthur Miller and his Death of Salesman were not influential. Rajinder Paul said that “Death of Salesman" has only an indirect influence on Indian theatre practitions.”[9]

Death of a Salesman in China

Death of a Salesman was welcomed in China. Here, Arthur Miller directed the play by himself. As Miller stated, “It depends on the father and the mother and the children. That’s what it’s about. The salesman part is what he does to stay alive. But he could be a peasant, he could be, whatever.” Here, the play focuses on the family relationship. It is easier for the Chinese public to understand the relationship between father and son because “One thing about the play that is very Chinese is the way Willy tries to make his sons successful." The Chinese father always wants his sons to be ‘dragons.’[10]


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