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Lamar stages A View from the Bridge

View from a bridge - man holding a chairLamar University’s Department of Theatre & Dance will open the 2013-14 season on Sept. 26 with Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge," a riveting drama from one of America's greatest playwrights. Italian-American immigrant life in the 1950s textures this passionate tale of love and revenge that will run through Sept. 29 in the University Theatre.

Set in Brooklyn, New York, Miller’s classic play has been hailed as a working-class Greek tragedy. The protagonist, longshoreman Eddie Carbone, is devoted to his wife, Beatrice, and to his orphaned niece, Catherine. When Beatrice's impoverished Sicilian cousins enter the U.S. illegally in the hope of finding work, Eddie gives them a helping hand. But when Catherine and one of the cousins fall in love, Eddie's affection for his niece turns into obsession.

Senior theatre major Steven Hoffman of Elmira, New York, directs Lamar’s production.

"Arthur Miler has always been an influential playwright in my life," said Hoffman. "I first read this play in high school, and I’ve seen many productions of it. It’s been a great experience to direct it. I have a strong, well seasoned cast, and they make it as easy as possible on me. They all work well together and have a good rapport, and that shows onstage."

As he considered the play, Hoffman was not worried that modern day Southeast Texas audiences wouldn’t be able to connect with a play set in 1950s Brooklyn.

"Miller wrote what I consider to be timeless pieces. I thought even though it is set in the 50s, that anyone could connect with it. The area we live in is a blue-collar region, and Eddie is a blue-collar worker who works day-to-day just trying to help his family. With this play, we get to see beyond the blue-collar persona to see an actual person with meaning, with emotions, hopes and dreams. Eddie says in the play that if he had a different skill-set, then he wouldn’t be on the waterfront, working as a longshoreman. But he doesn’t. That was the profession of his father, and it becomes this habitual thing. I think that audiences will see a parallel to the refineries in our area."

Miller wrote more than thirty plays, which won him a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. Some of Miller’s other classic plays include "All My Sons," "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible." His obituary in "The New York Times" lauded his work as exposing "the flaws in the fabric of the American dream."

"I think ‘A View from the Bridge’ is a fantastic play," said Joel Grothe, assistant professor of theatre, who stars as Eddie. "It’s more relevant now than when he wrote it. ‘Death of a Salesman’ was a hit at the time, but this play has gained respect over the years. Immigration is a key issue in it, as well as the interpersonal and familial issues that never go away. It’s the kind of play that people don’t necessarily know, but it’s extremely well written."

The play addresses psychological and social issues, and explores the power of community both to condemn and to redeem. "In play after play," drama critic Mel Gussow wrote in "The New York Times," Miller "holds man responsible for his and for his neighbor's actions."

"This is a play that I would recommend you see more than once," said Hoffman. "The actors and I are constantly trying to find out how we perceive it, and there is no one answer. I think the play ends the way it needed to, and has closure, but at the same time, it leaves things open and leaves room for questions. I think this is the mark of any good book or work, and is one of the reasons we still perform this play."

"A View from the Bridge" features a large cast of students, both onstage and working behind the scenes in technical roles. Natalie Sell of Spring plays Catherine; Maci McFarlin, Nederland, Beatrice; Fred Cascio, Port Arthur, Alfieri; Tracie Van Law, Winnie, Mrs. Lipari; Chaz Romero, Orange, Rudolpho; Aaron Michael Chang, Groves, Marco; Thomas Gentry, Houston, Tony; Trevor Nowola, Groves, Louis; Anthony Garza, Houston, Mike; Chloe Sullivan, Kountze, Immigration Officer 1; Shea Dueler, Beaumont, Immigration Officer 2; and Hayden Gilbert, Lumberton, as Mr. Lipari.

In addition to director Steven Hoffman, students in technical roles include Travon Haggerty, Baytown, assistant director; Rebecca Aswell, Bastrop, La., stage manager; Antoinette Sims, Arlington, assistant stage manager; and Evan Weathington, Beaumont, costume designer.

Assistant professor Jeff Wisor provides the lighting and scene design.

Performances of "A View from the Bridge" will be in the University Theatre, 4400 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway on the Lamar campus. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 29. Tickets are $15 for general admission; $10 for senior citizens, students and LU faculty/staff; and $7 for LU students. 

Call (409) 880-2250 for reservations and additional information, or visit www.lamar.edu/theatre.