APRIL 28, 1949
NEW YORK, Wednesday—Monday night I saw the much-advertised play, "Death of a Salesman." It is certainly a remarkable production. The imagination shown in the scenery and in the directing is extraordinary and no one could want better acting than Lee J. Cobb brings to the portrayal of Willy Loman, the unsuccessful salesman. The rest of the cast also was excellent.
Yet I remained untouched and somewhat critically aloof. One does not hear voices at one moment and talk sensibly to the son of one's old employer a little later on. Surely, there are dreamers and there are totally untruthful people in the world, people who are untruthful with themselves, with their families and with the world as a whole. They fail everyone, including themselves, but I don't know whether one really needs a whole evening of gloom to impress that truth upon one.
There are many touches of reality in the play and, as a theatrical performance, it is something to see. But I would not choose it either as entertainment or for its moral lesson. That lesson, in more realistic style, you can find in many an American community. I think I like it better when it points to the fact that a man, if finally brought to face the truth, can pick himself up and create a different ending.
Is this supposed to be the typical American salesman? If so, I don't think it is typical. The mother was the only person who might have given some redeeming features to the boys, but even that ray of hope was not very clearly indicated. If you go to see this play, be sure you don't happen to be in a gloomy mood. If you are you will come out even gloomier than when you went in.
Living in Greenwich Village one soon becomes aware that there is a very active group of craftsmen quietly carrying on their creative work, not only here but in many other parts of the country. Examples of their work are sometimes exhibited in various shop windows and I have come to look with interest for products of pottery work, silver and copper work and sculpture in various mediums.
When I go to San Francisco I nearly always go to Gump's and look at the work done by local California craftsmen, and in Los Angeles I go down to Olvera Street and look at the Mexican work. Few people realize, however, that here in New York City one can see the many local artists by walking around the Village and visiting America House as well as the foreign exhibits from Scandinavian countries, Italy and many other places.
All of these can be seen if you have time to look around the City of New York, and in a way there is much more diversity here than I found in California. Here you will find the influence of the foreign countries which I think is stimulating.