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Keene State Stages Arthur Miller Drama 'After the Fall'

KEENE, N.H. 2/11/05 - Keene State Theatre and Dance presents After the Fall, Arthur Miller’s most autobiographical drama, about a man coming to terms with his failed life by finding forgiveness and the will to survive.

The play is staged Wednesday to Saturday, March 2-5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $5 for KSC students, senior citizens, and youth 17 or younger. Call the box office at 603-358-2168.

Daniel Patterson, associate professor of theatre, directs the memory play that centers on a man who revisits his past to explain the catastrophes of his life. After the Fall probes deeply into the psyche of Quentin, who journeys back to a troubled childhood, the bitter death of his mother, and a series of failed relationships, most notably with a singer who many believe is patterned after the playwright’s wife, Marilyn Monroe, who died two years before the play was written. Miller, considered one of America’s greatest playwrights, died Feb. 10 at age 89.

After the Fall is one of Miller’s lesser known plays, and it’s intensively autobiographical, explains Patterson, who first directed the play in 1982 at Keene State and decided to restage it because its message about man’s Biblical fall from God’s grace resonates into the 21st century. Interestingly, After the Fall continues a revival on Broadway after opening in July.

“Miller looks at how man goes on after God has turned him out of the Garden of Eden; how does man survive,” Patterson said. “It deals with one man finding a way to change his life so he doesn’t make the same mistakes again. And it deals with finding forgiveness, which of course means it deals with man’s relationship to God in many ways.”

But as with other Miller plays, After the Fall deals with several other themes, such as morality, man’s dual nature of both good and evil, and man’s social responsibility to others. Miller wrote the play in 1964 and it alludes to his refusal in the 1950s to testify during the McCarthy hearings into the entertainment industry’s involvement in the Communist party, and how he was held in contempt and served a short time in jail. Miller stood up for what he believed in the face of hypocrisy and lies, a theme that runs through all of his plays from All My Sons to The Crucible, explains Patterson.

“They couldn’t very well blacklist him, he had four plays running on Broadway at the time,” says Patterson, who recalled that while explaining the historical context of the play to his students, one quipped that the work of McCarthy’s Senate Committee investigating subversion sounded much like today’s attitudes toward Americans who are protesting the war in Iraq.

“There are qualities in this play that still click today on many levels,” says Patterson.

KSC theatre major Casey Gallagher of East Swanzey takes the stage for the first time in a Keene State production in the lead role of Quentin, with Shannon Sexton of Merrimack playing his wife, Maggie, modeled on Marilyn Monroe. Other students in the 19-member cast include New Hampshire residents Elizabeth Ayers of Gilmanton, Paige Betts from Londonderry, Dominic DiBenedetto from Merrimack, Katelin Dickson from Bow, Steven Gravelle from Merrimack, Jaclyn Hill from Jaffrey, Phil Officer from Hanover, Jill Pettigrew from Dover, Shanna Sartori from Wolfeboro, Ian Vigue from New Durham, and Joshua Yeaton from Strafford.

The cast also includes Bridget Araujo from Shelton, Conn., Loring Griggs from Westerly, R.I., Evan Lidestri from Niantic, Conn., Emily McGrath from Natick, Mass., and Courtney Smith from Sherman, Conn. Meghan Fisher from Hudson, N.H., is the stage manager. Shaine LaBar from Alton, N.H., and Joseph Pongratz from Lancaster, Mass., are assistant stage managers.

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