A View from the Bridge

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A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge cover.jpg
First edition cover.
Written by Arthur Miller
Date premiered September 29, 1955
Place premiered Coronet Theatre (now Eugene O'Neill Theatre)
New York City
Original language English
Genre Tragedy
Setting The apartment and environment of Eddie Carbone
IBDB profile
IOBDB profile

A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller, first staged on September 29, 1955 as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The play was unsuccessful and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this version is the one with which audiences are most familiar today.[1] The two-act version premièred in the New Watergate theatre club in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook on October 11, 1956.

The play is set in 1950s America, in an Italian American neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It employs a chorus and narrator in the character of Alfieri. Eddie, the tragic protagonist, has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine. Miller's interest in writing about the world of the New York docks originated with an unproduced screenplay that he developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s (entitled The Hook) that addressed corruption on the Brooklyn docks (Kazan would go on to direct On the Waterfront, which tackled the same subject). Miller said that he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridge from a lawyer who worked with longshoremen, who related it to him as a true story.

Synopsis[edit]

The main character in the story is Eddie Carbone, an Italian American longshoreman, who lives with his wife, Beatrice, and his orphaned niece, Catherine. These characters live in a community called Red Hook. In act one, Eddie is protective and kind toward Catherine, although his feelings grow into something more than avuncular as the play develops. His attachment to her is brought into perspective by the arrival from Italy of Beatrice's two cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. They have entered the country illegally, hoping to leave behind hunger and unemployment for a better life in America. Marco is an exceptionally strong man, said by Eddie's friends to be '"a regular bull." He also has a starving family in Italy (a wife, and 3 sons, one with tuberculosis). Rodolpho is in his late 20s, fair skinned, blond, and unattached. He is unconventional in that he sings, dances, is good at cleaning and dress making and is also a good cook. Catherine soon begins a relationship with Rodolpho.

After three weeks, the pair have been seeing each other, and Eddie sets about pointing out all of Rodolpho's flaws to Catherine and Beatrice. He persistently complains that Rodolpho is "not right", and "weird", referring to Rodolpho's effeminate qualities, such as sewing, cooking and singing. He is embarrassed by Rodolpho's reputation for singing during work.

When Catherine decides to marry Rodolpho, Eddie becomes desperate and begs an acquaintance, Alfieri (who is a lawyer and also the narrator), to help him. However, he is told that the only way the law is able to help him is if he informs the Immigration Bureau of the presence of the two illegal immigrants. Due to his earlier assertion that "it's an honor" to give the men refuge, he refuses to betray them. Alfieri also tells Eddie that there's no law stopping people falling in love. At home he continues to passively insult Rodolpho, and ends up offering to teach Rodolpho to box, however Eddie uses this opportunity to hit Rodolpho. In retaliation, Marco challenges Eddie to lift a chair from the bottom of its leg; when Eddie fails to do this, Marco picks up the chair with one hand from the bottom of its leg and lifts it above his head. This demonstrates Marco's superior strength and that he will always be watching over Rodolpho, should Eddie harm him.

In the second Act, Eddie catches Rodolpho leaving the bedroom with Catherine. After a verbal altercation, Rodolpho and Catherine try to leave. Instead of allowing them to go, Eddie grabs Catherine and yells at her and, to her horror, kisses her. Rodolpho tries to retaliate but Eddie grabs him, pins him in a chair and then kisses him roughly and passionately - all in front of Catherine to humiliate Rodolpho and 'show her what he really is' (implying he is a homosexual). He then sees Alfieri a second time. Eddie ignores his lawyer's advice to let events run their course, and calls the Immigration Bureau. This betrayal proves disastrous: he comes back to learn that Catherine and Rodolpho are engaged and are now living in a room a few floors above Eddie's apartment and Beatrice informs him two more illegal immigrants have moved into the upstairs apartment. Suddenly, the Immigration Officers arrive and shortly arrest the four immigrants. As the detainees are being taken from the tenement, Marco breaks free from the group, "dashes into the room" and spits in Eddie's face. This happens inside Eddie's house – however Eddie's rage is such that he follows Marco out into the street. He berates Marco for the insult, failing to notice that the gathering crowd are growing as one to conclude that Eddie is the traitor. This suspicion is confirmed as Marco singles Eddie out as the one who "killed my children." Eddie's friends and family turn away from him, as what he has done is morally unacceptable in their community. After being arrested, Marco laments in prison about how Eddie has betrayed him, effectively killing off his family and its only chance of having a good income, and is sending him home on a 'ship called hunger'.

Rodolpho is allowed to stay in the country due to his engagement with the American citizen Catherine, but Marco faces imminent deportation. Reluctantly, he promises Alfieri not to take revenge on Eddie (as is the Sicilian custom) and is let out on bail. In the final scene of the play, Eddie is shown to be furious with his humiliation in front of his friends and family and so refuses to attend the wedding. He rejects Rodolpho's offer to reconcile and refuses to leave his house when he learns Marco is arriving.

The play ends with a fight between Eddie and Marco, in a street filled with his friends and family. Eddie brandishes a knife and lunges at Marco, who turns the blade into Eddie, killing him. It is not known whether Marco actually intended to stab Eddie, and his reaction is not described. Eddie dies as the curtain falls, calling out to Beatrice. Alfieri ends the play leaving us with a telling speech.

Production history[edit]

Premières[edit]

The one-act, verse version of A View from the Bridge opened on Broadway on September 29, 1955 at the Coronet Theatre (now the Eugene O'Neill Theatre). It ran for 149 performances. This production was directed by Martin Ritt and the cast included Van Heflin as Eddie and Eileen Heckart as Beatrice.[2] Its two-act version premièred in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook. It opened at the New Watergate theatre club (currently Harold Pinter Theatre) on October 11, 1956 and the cast included Richard Harris as Louis and Anthony Quayle as Eddie,[3] with lighting design by Lee Watson.

Revivals in New York[edit]

Dustin Hoffman acted as assistant director and stage manager for a successful 1965 production of the play Off-Broadway at the Sheridan Square Playhouse in New York City. The play's director, Ulu Grosbard, suggested to Arthur Miller that Hoffman would one day make a great Willy Loman (a role that Hoffman would later play to great acclaim). Miller was unimpressed and later wrote that "My estimate of Grosbard all but collapsed as, observing Dustin Hoffman’s awkwardness and his big nose that never seemed to get unstuffy, I wondered how the poor fellow imagined himself a candidate for any kind of acting career."[4] Another production in New York opened on February 3, 1983 at the Ambassador Theatre, with Tony Lo Bianco as Eddie and directed by Arvin Brown. It ran for 149 performances.[2] An award-winning production in New York opened on December 14, 1997 at the Criterion Center Stage Right and subsequently transferred to the Neil Simon Theatre. It ran for 239 performances. It was directed by Michael Mayer and the cast included Anthony LaPaglia, Allison Janney, and a young Brittany Murphy.[2][5] The production won the Tony Award for: Best Revival of a Play; Best Leading Actor in a Play (LaPaglia); it also won Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Janney), and Outstanding Direction of a Play. A revival at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 2009 starred Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Hecht. The limited, 14-week engagement, directed by Gregory Mosher, began with previews on December 28, 2009 and officially opened on January 24, 2010. It ran until April 4, 2010.[2][5][6] Johansson won a Tony Award for her performance.

Revivals in London[edit]

The National Theatre of Great Britain staged a production in 1987 at the Cottesloe Theatre. It was directed by Alan Ayckbourn and Michael Gambon gave an acclaimed performance as Eddie. Time Out called the production "near perfect" and the New Statesman called it "one of the finest events to be presented at the National Theatre since it moved to the South Bank."[7] Another West End production was staged at the Duke of York's Theatre, opening in previews on January 24, 2009 and officially on February 5. It ran until May 16, 2009. It was directed by Lindsay Posner, with Ken Stott as Eddie, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Beatrice, Hayley Atwell as Catherine and Harry Lloyd as Rodolpho.[8] The production subsequently toured the UK.[citation needed]

Adaptations[edit]

Film[edit]

Italian film director Luchino Visconti directed a stage version of the play in Italy in 1958. The plot of his film Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli), made in 1960, has many affinities with A View from the Bridge.[9]

A film based on A View from the Bridge titled Vu du pont was released in February 1962. Directed by Sidney Lumet, it starred Raf Vallone and Maureen Stapleton as Eddie and Beatrice, with Carol Lawrence as Catherine.[10] The film was the first time that a kiss between men was showed on screen in America, albeit in this case it is intended as an accusation of being gay, rather than a romantic expression.[11]

In 2005, a new film version of A View From the Bridge was announced to be directed by Barry Levinson, with Anthony LaPaglia as Eddie, Scarlett Johansson as Shannon, and Frances McDormand as Beatrice,[12] but it never went into production. In January 2011, Variety reported that another version of the film was scheduled to begin shooting in June in Melbourne and New York with new director Robert Connolly and a cast featuring LaPaglia, Vera Farmiga, Mia Wasikowska and Sam Neill,[13] but it never went into production after Miller's daughter Rebecca rejected LaPaglia's request to extend the rights to the film that had expired on October 11, thus officially ending the project.[14]

Television[edit]

On 4 April 1966, ITV aired View from the Bridge as its "ITV Play of the Week", of which no copies survive.

In 1986, the BBC aired a TV dramatisation of the play produced by Geoff Wilson.

Opera[edit]

Renzo Rossellini, the brother of film director Roberto Rossellini, was the first to adapt the play into an opera with his Uno sguardo dal ponte, which premiered at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in 1961. In 1999, another operatic version, with music by William Bolcom and a libretto by Arthur Miller, premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago starring Kim Josephson as Eddie Carbone. The work was performed subsequently at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002, again at the Washington National Opera in 2007, and by Vertical Player Repertory Opera in 2009, starring William Browning as Eddie.[citation needed] The opera was first performed in Europe at Theatre Hagen in 2003 in German translation. The first English (original) language version produced in Europe opened at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in Rome, Italy on January 18, 2011

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards
Nominations
  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
  • 2010 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christopher Bigsby, The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, pp.104–108, Cambridge University Press, 2010 ISBN 0-521-74538-1.
  2. ^ a b c d A View from the Bridge at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. ^ Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge / All My Sones (London: Penguin, 1961), p.9; Arthur Miller, Introduction to Plays: One (London: Methuen, 1988), p.51.
  4. ^ "Dustin Hoffman Biography". Tiscali. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  5. ^ a b Ben Brantley (January 25, 2010). "A View From Brooklyn of Tragedy Most Classic". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneth."'View From the Bridge' Ends Limited Broadway Engagement" playbill.com, April 4, 2010
  7. ^ A View From The Bridge: Reviews (Original Ayckbourn Production, National Theatre, London, 1987)
  8. ^ "A View from the Bridge' listing, 2009, Duke of York's Theatre thisistheatre.com, retrieved April 4, 2010
  9. ^ Rohdie, Sam (1992). "Rocco and His Brothers – Rocco e i suoi fratelli". British Film Institute Publications. 
  10. ^ Vu du pont at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ Russo, Vito (1986). The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality In The Movies. Harper & Row. p. 138. ISBN 978-0060961329. 
  12. ^ Michael Fleming (15 February 2005). "The Bigscreen 'View': Cast, Helmer Set for Miller Play Adaptation". variety. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  13. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (18 January 2010). "Farmiga, Wasikowska join 'Bridge'". Variety. Retrieved 18 January 2010. 
  14. ^ Don Groves (13 October 2011). "Window shuts on A View from the Bridge". SBS Film. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]