Sons and Dragons: Death of a Salesman as a Cultural Icon
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is one of the most staged and best loved translated plays in Hong Kong. It was first introduced to the local audience by Chung King-fai in 1964. Since then, it has been mounted in Hong Kong 11 times. Salesman is considered almost by consensus a classic of Western drama. It was among the first contemporary American plays to be staged in the territory and the most famous, if not the most familiar, to the Hong Kong audience. During interviews with local practitioners, many of them identified Salesman as the most popular foreign play without hesitation. All the productions in Hong Kong were invariably faithful renderings of the original play, in terms of setting, language and performance style. Dominic Cheung, who mounted Salesman on the Hong Kong stage in 1995, and Hardy Tsoi, who did so in 2006, both insisted that the play must be produced in its entirety and that it could not and should not be changed. They were confident that the story of Willy Loman, the pitiful American salesman of the 1940s, would resonate with the present-day Hong Kong audience (Cheung 2009; Tsoi 2009). The story of Salesman, as confirmed by the play’s producers in newspaper coverage and interviews, is in many ways similar to the situation of Hong Kong, and its protagonist Willy Loman has become a local cultural icon.
KeywordsAmerican Football Identity Construction Television Serial Local Audience American Play
- Asia Times. 2005. ‘Gudu de tuixiaoyuan’ shifou Zeng Yinquan de suming 「孤獨的推銷員」是否曾蔭權的宿命 [“Lonely salesman”: The fate of Donald Tsang?], 2 June 2005. Also on the official website of Asia Times. http://www.atchinese.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1269&catid=121&It…. Accessed 16 May 2010.
- Brown, John Mason. 1963. Even as You and I. In his Dramatis personae, 94–100. New York: The Viking Press. Also in Gerald Weales, ed., Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 205–211. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Cheung, Dominic 張可堅. 2009. Interview by author, Hong Kong, 24 December 2009.Google Scholar
- Chua, Amy. 2011. Battle hymn of the tiger mother. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Chung, King-fai 鍾景輝. 1965. Taojing meng 淘金夢 [A dream of prospecting for gold]. Sing Tao Daily (Hong Kong), 12 June.Google Scholar
- Clurman, Harold. 1958. The success dream on the American stage. In his Lies like truth, 68–72. New York: Macmillan. Also in Gerald Weales, ed. 1996. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 212–216. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Fong, Gilbert C. F. 方梓勳, Shelby Kar-yan Chan 陳嘉恩, and Hardy Tsoi 蔡錫昌 (trans.) 2006. Tuixiaoyuan zhi si 推銷員之死 [Death of a Salesman]. Unpublished play script translation.Google Scholar
- Gassner, John. 1954/1996. Death of a Salesman: First impressions, 1949. In The theatre in our times, 364–373. New York: Crown Publishers. Also in Gerald Weales, ed., Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 231–239. New York: Penguin, 1996.Google Scholar
- Hawkins, William. 1949. Death of a Salesman: Powerful tragedy. The New York World-Telegram, 11 February 1949. Also in Gerald Weales, ed. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 202–204. New York: Penguin, 1996.Google Scholar
- Hynes, Joseph A. 1962. Attention must be paid … College English 23(5): 574–578. Also in Gerald Weales, ed. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 280–289. New York: Penguin, 1996.Google Scholar
- Jacobson, Irving. 1975. Family dreams in Death of a Salesman. American literature 47(2): 247–258. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2925484. Accessed 9 May 2011.
- Liu, Tianchi 劉天賜. 1993. Dianshi fengyun ershi nian 電視風雲二十年 [Twenty years of television legends]. Hong Kong: Boyi.Google Scholar
- Miller, Arthur. 1949. Tragedy and the common man. The New York Times, 27 February 1949, II, pp. 1, 3. Also in Gerald Weales, ed. 1996. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Miller, Arthur. 1956. The family in modern drama. Atlantic monthly (April 1956): 36–37.Google Scholar
- Miller, Arthur. 1984. Salesman in Beijing. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
- Millar, Arthur. 1987. Timebends: A life. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
- Miller, Arthur. 1999. Salesman at ‘50’: In Arthur Miller’s own words. In his Death of a Salesman: 50th anniversary edition. London: Penguin. Also on the official website of Robert Fall’s 2005 production of Death of a Salesman at Lyric Theatre, London. http://www.deathofasalesmanlondon.com/study_miller_at_50.asp. Accessed 5 May 2010.
- Moody, Walter D. 1909. The know-it-all salesman. In his Men who sell things, 111–116. Chicago: A. C. McClurg. Also in Gerald Weales, ed. 1996. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 367–370. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Roudané, Matthew C. 1985. Interview with Arthur Miller. On the official website of “Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller at the Lyric Theatre, London.” http://www.deathofasalesmanlondon.com/study_miller_interview.asp. Accessed 5 May 2010.
- Tsoi, Hardy 蔡錫昌. 2006. Gushi jianjie 故事簡介 [Synopsis]. Programme of Tuixiaoyuan zhi si 推銷員之死 [Death of a Salesman]. TNT Theatre 眾劇團, Hong Kong, 22–24 September 2006. Also on the official website of the production. http://www.tendesign.com.hk/death/s.html#ss. Accessed 23 May 2010.
- Tsoi, Hardy 蔡錫昌. 2009. Interview by author, Hong Kong, 17 December 2009.Google Scholar
- Venuti, Lawrence. 1995. The translator’s invisibility: A history of translation. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Wang, Haiying 王海瑩. 2008. Fanyi yanyi 繙譯演繹 [Translation and performance]. Hong Kong Economic Times 經濟日報 (Hong Kong), C05, “Reading”, 28 January 2008.Google Scholar
- Weales, Gerald (ed.). 1996. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Williams, Raymond. 1959. The realism of Arthur Miller. Critical quarterly I (Summer 1959): 140–149. Also in Gerald Weales, ed. 1996. Death of a Salesman: Text and criticism, 313–325. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Wright, Rachel. 2007. Living and working in Hong Kong: The complete practical guide to expatriate life in China’s gateway. Oxford: How To Books.Google Scholar
- Zhang, Jinping 張近平. 2007. Yihan shenghuo zai zheli 遺憾生活在這裡 [Pity that life is here]. Takungpao 大剬報 (Hong Kong), 1 September 2007.Google Scholar