(Helene Stapinskijan’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/22; via Pam Green.)
When Arthur Miller first visited his country cousins in Brooklyn in the early 1920s, Midwood was not just a neighborhood, it was a description. Patches of woods stood thick enough near their East Fifth Street home that the boys could hunt squirrels, rabbits and other small game. There were muddy paths and tomato fields, and big sacks of potatoes in the cellar.
Miller’s two salesman uncles — on whom he would base the character Willy Loman — were urban pioneers, planting roots in the borough just after World War I.
The woods have been replaced by houses and streets, but much of what Miller loved and used as inspiration for his plays can still be found.
The centennial of Miller’s birth on Oct. 17, 1915, has put his name front and center in the New York theater world. Among revivals of his work, a spare, searing British production of “A View From the Bridge,” has drawn stellar reviews; “The Crucible,” starring Saoirse Ronan, starts previews in a few weeks; and a centennial celebration reading will be held at the Lyceum Theater in Midtown on Monday.