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The world premiere of a controversial play on the centennial of playwright Arthur Miller

The world premiere of a controversial play on the centennial of playwright Arthur Miller

In June 2015, the Royal and Derngate Theatre in the United Kingdom will premiere Arthur Miller’s never-before-seen play, The Hook.

Originally written as a screenplay in 1951, The Hook will celebrate Miller’s centennial and stage a story that once was seen as unfit in the age of McCarthyism.

Set in the Red Hook docks of Brooklyn, The Hook surrounds dockworker and protagonist Marty Ferrara in his quest to overturn the corrupt power held by both gangsters and officials alike. Written during a time of mistrust, The Hook unearths not only Miller’s struggle with the U.S government during the height of the Red scare but also his relationship to director Elia Kazan.

While Miller and Kazan collaborated with Columbia Pictures to have the script filmed in the early 1950s, the project became a source of contention once political tensions rose to the surface. Pressured by Columbia president Harry Cohn to change the villains of the play from mobsters to communists, Miller ended the project with his refusal.

Even though the short-lived development of The Hook came to an end, Miller and Kazan’s confrontation with anticommunist sentiments resurfaced and severed their friendship. While Kazan acquiesced to "name names" under the demands of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Miller refused to cooperate.

In wake of The Hook’s failure, Miller’s play A View From the Bridge and Kazan’s film On the Waterfront both once again explored the world of the The Hook. It is even theorized that central themes of Miller’s A View From the Bridge and The Crucible were directed toward Kazan while Kazan's On the Waterfront was a defense of his decision.

As we approach Miller’s centennial here at CTG with Miller's rarely staged The Price, it is true that we no longer live in a time of communist witch hunts or shady New York waterfronts. Even so, director James Dacre of The Hook finds that elements of Miller’s plays still ring true in our contemporary world.

"What fascinates me about the piece is that Miller clearly had a sense that so many of its themes would endure today," Dacre said.

The Price will play at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum Theatre from February 11 through March 22, 2015.