Charleston Community Theatre Presents ‘Death of a Salesman’

Earl Halbe

Earl Halbe

Liz Stephens, City Reporter

Questions about the American Dream will be explored as The Charleston Community Theatre presents the play “Death of a Salesman” written by Arthur Miller.

Charleston resident Earl Halbe, who plays the protagonist Willy Loman, said “Death of a Salesman” is one of the best plays in American theatre.

The play centers around Loman, who is struggling to understand why he did not get as far in life and his career as he had hoped.

“He was struggling to obtain what he called greatness,” Halbe said. “It was first presented in 1949, so it’s an indictment to the American Dream.”

Halbe said in the time the play is set in, when a company advertised a product, people were more likely to believe them.

An example of this is one of the scenes in the play where Loman’s refrigerator breaks, Halbe said.

In the scene, Loman angrily says, “Once in my life, I would like to own something outright before it’s broken! I’m always in a race with the junkyard! I just finished paying for the car and it’s on its last legs. The refrigerator consumes belts like a goddamn maniac. They time those things. They time them so when you finally paid for them, they’re used up.”

Halbe said the play shows a time when people were still innocent, but during the course of the play the characters in “Death of a Salesman” start to realize things are not quite as they seem.

The audience can relate to the show because often people have this realization at some point in their lives, Halbe said.

“Back when I was in school, the head of our department directed ‘Death of a Salesman’ and he said that there’s a little bit of bit of Willy Loman in all of us, children, men or women,” Halbe said.

Halbe said some scenes where Loman has epiphanies about his life might make the audience uncomfortable because they may be able to relate to them.

As “Death of a Salesman” is usually taught in university English courses, some students might already know about the play.

Despite this, Halbe said there is often a stigma against older theatre from college students, who say they would not want to read or see “Death of a Salesman” because it seems depressing.

However, Halbe said the play has universality.

“Five hundred years from now, it is still going to affect people. This play will transcend and still affect people because it hits the nail of what humanity is on the head,” he said.

The show is being directed by David Stevens and the cast is currently working on its blocking during rehearsals.

“Death of a Salesman” will be shown Friday, March 31 and will run through Saturday, April 8. The curtain will open at 7:30 p.m. for the evening shows and a matinee will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 2.

“Death of a Salesman” will be performed by the Charleston Community Theatre at its new venue, Elks Lodge, since the group is leaving the Tarble Arts Center because of a large art installation.

Liz Stephens can be contacted at 581-2812 or [email protected].