A View from the Bridge
|A View from the Bridge|
First edition cover
|Written by||Arthur Miller|
|Date premiered||September 29, 1955|
|Place premiered||Coronet Theatre (now Eugene O'Neill Theatre)
New York City
|Setting||The apartment and environment of Eddie Carbone|
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. 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, his wife Beatrice's orphaned niece, so he does not approve of her courtship of Beatrice's cousin Rodolfo. 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 later directed On the Waterfront, which dealt with 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.
Act 1 – Mr. Alfieri, a lawyer in the small Brooklyn community of Red Hook, narrates the story of Eddie Carbone, an Italian American longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice and her orphaned niece Catherine. He warns the audience at an early point that Eddie's story is a tragic one, memorable for its impact on the community. Eddie is protective and fatherly towards Catherine, who is undertaking study to become a stenographer with Eddie's financial support. However, he seems resistant to letting her grow up, objecting to her taking a job until she finishes her coursework. Beatrice is more supportive of Catherine's ventures, recognizing she needs to be her own woman, and often acts as a mediator between the two. Eddie returns home one afternoon with the news that Beatrice's two cousins, brothers Marco and Rodolfo, have safely arrived in New York as illegal immigrants. He has agreed to house them. Marco is quiet and thoughtful, possessing a remarkable strength, whereas Rodolfo is more unconventional, with plans to make a career singing in America. Marco has a family starving in Italy and plans to return after working illegally for several years, whereas Rodolfo intends to stay. Although Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine are at first excellent hosts, cracks appear when Rodolfo and Catherine begin dating, without Eddie's permission. Protective by nature, Eddie is unhappy about this.
Rodolfo gains a reputation with his colleagues for traits they view as effeminate, such as his singing and his blonde hair ("A thousand years ago, they say, the Danes invaded Sicily", Rodolfo explains at one point). A rumour that he might be homosexual worries Eddie, who begins to suspect that Rodolfo is expressing interest in Catherine so he can marry her and gain status as a legal citizen. Beatrice is troubled by Eddie's readiness to believe the worst; he becomes increasingly withdrawn and they stop sleeping together. Eddie rejects Beatrice's advice and turns to Alfieri, begging for an idea for ending Rodolfo's and Catherine's romance without revealing Rodolfo's and Marco's status as illegal immigrants; if this were done, Eddie and his family would be shunned in their community. Seeing no solution for his concern, Eddie becomes increasingly desperate and takes his anger out on Rodolfo in teaching him to box, and 'accidentally' injuring him. Marco reacts by quietly threatening Eddie, showing his strength by holding a heavy chair above Eddie's head with one hand.
Act 2 – Eddie's paranoia increases, and reaches a breaking point when he discovers that Catherine and Rodolfo have slept together and are intent on marrying. Drunk, he attempts to prove that Rodolfo is gay by suddenly and passionately kissing him; he also kisses Catherine, which raises the suspicion of Beatrice and Alfieri that he may have romantic feelings toward his niece. Beatrice arranges for Marco and Rodolfo to move in with two immigrants in the flat above. Eddie insists to Alfieri that the kiss has proved Rodolfo is gay and is only marrying Catherine for citizenship. He then phones immigration services, who arrive and arrest Marco, Rodolfo and the two other immigrants, as the neighbours gather round. Eddie pretends that the arrest comes as a complete surprise to him, but Beatrice and Marco see through this. Marco spits in Eddie's face in front of everyone, accusing him and wounding Eddie's pride.
Alfieri visits Marco and Rodolfo in custody, obtaining their release on bail until their trial in six weeks. Rodolfo plans to marry Catherine immediately, suggesting he will be allowed to stay, whereas Alfieri warns Marco that he has no chance. Vengeful, Marco confronts Eddie publicly on his release, and Eddie turns on him with a knife, demanding that he take back his accusations and restore his honour. In the ensuing scuffle, Eddie is stabbed with his own knife and dies, as his stunned family and neighbours stand around.
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. 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, with lighting design by Lee Watson.
Revivals in New York
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." 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. 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. 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. Johansson won a Tony Award for her performance.
Revivals in London
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." 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 Rodolfo. The production subsequently toured the UK. In 2014, Belgian director Ivo van Hove and lead actors Mark Strong (as Eddie), Phoebe Fox (Catherine), and Nicola Walker (Beatrice) revived the play to huge success at the Young Vic. This revival won three Laurence Olivier Awards in April 2015, for Best Actor (Mark Strong), Best Revival and Best Director (Ivo van Hove). In June 2015 it was announced that the Young Vic's revival of the play would transfer with the original London cast to the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway from late October 2015 until late February 2016.
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.
A French-Italian film based on A View from the Bridge titled Vu du pont was released in February 1962. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film starred Raf Vallone and Maureen Stapleton as Eddie and Beatrice, with Carol Lawrence as Catherine. The film was the first time that a kiss between men was shown on screen in America, albeit in this case it is intended as an accusation of being gay, rather than a romantic expression.
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, 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, 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.
On 4 April 1966, ITV aired A 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.
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. The opera was first performed in Europe at Theater 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 on January 18, 2011.
Awards and nominations
- 1998 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play
- 1998 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
- 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play
- 2015 Olivier Award for Best Revival
- 2015 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor (Mark Strong)
- 2015 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director (Ivo van Hove)
- 1983 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
- 2010 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play
- 2010 Olivier Award for Best Revival
- Christopher Bigsby, The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, pp. 104–108, Cambridge University Press, 2010 ISBN 0-521-74538-1.
- A View from the Bridge at the Internet Broadway Database
- 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.
- "Dustin Hoffman Biography". Tiscali. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
- Ben Brantley (January 25, 2010). "A View From Brooklyn of Tragedy Most Classic". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
- Jones, Kenneth."'View From the Bridge' Ends Limited Broadway Engagement" playbill.com, April 4, 2010
- A View From The Bridge: Reviews (Original Ayckbourn Production, National Theatre, London, 1987)
- "A View from the Bridge' listing, 2009, Duke of York's Theatre thisistheatre.com, retrieved April 4, 2010
- Barnett, Laura, "A View from the Bridge review – 'visceral and vital'" The Guardian, 12 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
- Rohdie, Sam (1992). Rocco and His Brothers – Rocco e i suoi fratelli. British Film Institute Publications.
- Vu du pont at the Internet Movie Database
- Russo, Vito (1986). The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality In The Movies. Harper & Row. p. 138. ISBN 978-0060961329.
- Michael Fleming (15 February 2005). "The Bigscreen 'View': Cast, Helmer Set for Miller Play Adaptation". variety. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
- Lodderhose, Diana (18 January 2010). "Farmiga, Wasikowska join 'Bridge'". Variety. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- Don Groves (13 October 2011). "Window shuts on A View from the Bridge". SBS Film. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- Miller, Arthur (1955). A View from the Bridge: Two One-Act Plays (1st ed.). New York: Viking Press. OCLC 26621266.
- A View from the Bridge at the Internet Broadway Database
- A View from the Bridge at the Internet off-Broadway Database
- A View from the Bridge from SparkNotes
- English Literature: A View from the Bridge from the BBC's GCSE Bitesize
- Studying Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge from eriding.net
- Understanding A View From The Bridge from aresearchguide.com
- A View from the Bridge study guide, themes, quotes, teacher resources from shmoop.com