Though America prides itself on its history of being a “land of opportunity” and a haven for immigrants from all over the world, the contrary impulse to blame newcomers for all social ills and pull up the gangplank never quite goes away. Election years are predictable times for anti-immigrant demagoguery to rear its ugly head, and 2016 is no exception.
That makes this season especially apt for a revival of one of Arthur Miller’s gloomy masterpieces, A View from the Bridge. Structured like a Greek tragedy, with an attorney filling in for the chorus, it’s an evergreen reminder that walls keeping out new Americans can be constructed of human passions and prejudices just as surely and effectively as of steel, concrete and barbed wire.
Set in Brooklyn’s waterfront Red Hook neighborhood during the 1950s, A View from the Bridge tells the story of longshoreman Eddie Carbone, whose initial welcome to his wife Beatrice’s two cousins newly arrived from Italy sours when one of the two young men, Rodolfo, takes a romantic interest in Beatrice’s niece, Catherine. Eddie’s overprotectiveness of the young woman soon reveals itself to have darker motivations, with tragic consequences.
The Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY-New Paltz will present a production of A View from the Bridge for the next two weekends, opening this Thursday, March 3. Directed by department chair Jack Wade, with an all-student cast and design staff, the play will be performed in Parker Theatre at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 3 to 5 and 10 to 12, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 6 and 13.
Prior to the March 4 performance, Theatre Arts professor Thomas Olsen will moderate a free pre-show panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. in Parker Theatre. Panelists Larry Carr, lecturer in the Department of English, Morgan Gwenwald, associate librarian at the Sojourner Truth Library, and Reynolds Scott-Childress, assistant professor of History, will discuss Arthur Miller’s life and work and the cultural conditions represented in the play.
Tickets cost $18 general admission, $16 for seniors (62+), New Paltz faculty and staff and non-New Paltz students and $10 for SUNY-New Paltz students. They can be purchased at the Parker Theatre box office from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or online at www.newpaltz.edu/theatre. For more information call (845) 257- 3880 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.