Broadway’s “Death of a Salesman,” returns, making history when Black actors play the Lomans

Nearly 75 years ago, Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, was the first Broadway show. First: The Willy Loman clan is African American.

This Sunday, the revival of the powerhouse theatre opens.

Wendell Pierce is Willy Loman. He’s an aging Brooklyn salesman who puts his past on a pedestal only for his mistakes to make a career and his dream of a perfect family seem impossible.

Pierce is well-known for his many roles on the screen, including “The Wire”, “Treme” and “The Wire.” “Death of the Salesman” is Pierce’s fifth Broadway play. It was the first Broadway production to feature Black actors as Lomans.

It is an honor and a great privilege to play this role. Pierce stated that this was the challenge of a lifetime, not only for artists but also as a man. He needed to reflect on his life and decide what is most important. “This work is… a challenge I wouldn’t have chosen to accept.”

“It’s timeless. It’s timely. Sharon D. Clarke said, “It’s time.”

Clarke starred alongside Pierce in the 2019 London production. She won an Olivier Award as Willy’s unaffected wife and mother to their two sons.

“Just as any actor, you bring your best to the role. Pierce stated that having the Loman family become Black amplifies everything already on the page and takes it to another level.

“Just heightens it, enriches it, deepens it. It’s so visceral that you can see the impossible of the American dream. It is unlikely. Clarke stated that you can see it.

Arthur Miller’s play was nominated for the 1949 Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award. It quickly became a landmark piece of American literature.

“People come to us afterward, asking if we rewrote that. This play has been seen 1,000 times. Pierce stated, “I have never heard that line.” They thought we had changed it. It was still there.

This is Miranda Cromwell’s Broadway debut as director. She won an Olivier Award in London for her work as the play’s co-director.

Cromwell stated, “The act of making theatre is to put yourself in the shoes of other people, to see what the same experiences are through a new lens, through an alternate body, through another voice, through and with a different historical-cultural context.”

Pierce states that the more specific the message, the more universal it is.

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