Director Emeritus of Theatre Robert Amsden to play lead in ‘Death of a Salesman’

Director Emeritus of Theatre Robert Amsden will play the lead role when Oshkosh Community Players presents Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” April 4-6. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 4, 5 and 6 and 2 p.m. April 6 at the Grand Opera House, Oshkosh.

Amsden will play the role of William “Willy” Loman, an aging traveling salesman from Brooklyn, New York. Loman’s less-than spectacular career is declining, and the story has been described as Loman’s struggle “to maintain a foothold in the upward-striving ‘American middle class’ while combating his own self-doubt that plagues him in reminders from the past that his life rests on unsolid ground.”

Another review has said, “Loman is a symbolic representation of millions of white collar employees who outlived their corporate usefulness.”

“It’s the portrait of a man struggling within the system that we have, Amsden says. “The play is quite an examination of some of the cross currents in being an American in this kind of culture.” He adds, “Because this is such a significant part, what I’m hoping for is a clear interpretation of the role. When I direct, I try to do the same thing with all the characters: shape their behavior so the characters’ circumstances, decisions and actions are clear to the audience.”

“With theatre, we can peer into somebody else’s life and we can reflect on our own life. To create something to communicate to other people is a really an enriching experience for the actor. It’s something that goes beyond the stage floor into the audience. You (as an actor) want to feel like you’re guiding the audience through a thought process.”

Of his own participation, Amsden says, “I thought it would be the opportunity to do one of the all-time great roles in modern American theatre.”

Also appearing in the production is Jim Tronoff of Ripon. Tronoff, his wife, professor emerita of English Robin Woods, and Amsden all have appeared in many shows together with the now disbanded Ripon Summer Players.

(Photo: Robert Amsden, right, rehearses a scene.)

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