“All My Sons” at Court Theater | Interview with the Cast
Written by celebrated American playwright, Arthur MIller, and based on a true story, All My Sons tells the story of local businessman and manufacturer Joe Keller who “developed a bitter history with his business partner after dealing with profound tragedy during World War II.” Despite the odds, love blossoms between Joe’s son Chris and his partner’s daughter Ann. Joe is destined to face old dilemmas and defend his decisions in this electrifying family drama. We sat down with actors Timothy Edward Kane (Chris Keller), John Judd (Joe Keller), and Kate Collins (Kate Keller) as they prepared to start rehearsing for All My Sons.
In bringing All My Sons to life at Court this season, we are building upon what was learned during our three-play Greek cycle—Iphigenia at Aulis, Agamemnon, and Electra—and applying those lessons to Miller’s first masterpiece. In 1947, the playwright called All My Sons his tragedy for “the common man”: Miller hoped his effort to re-imagine and re-purpose the Greek tragic form would speak directly to the lives and psyches of modern Americans. To capture the feeling of Greek tragedy in our design for this production, we will not be seeking to represent a backyard in Middle America, where the action of the play typically unfolds. Rather, we are turning to the American painter Edward Hopper for inspiration. Our aim is to create a setting that feels primordial rather than literal: a space out of time. –Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director
What has your favorite role been so far at the Court Theater?
John Judd: This will be, I think. The current one—the one you’re working on—is always your favorite role. It’s a great American play. Joe Keller is a complicated, big role, and it’s a challenge for any actor. It’s one of the roles you’d hope get to do sometimes.
Kate Collins: It’s so hard. I loved them all. I loved Nora (1998), I loved that show. I loved the process; it was kind of edgy and I love that. I am really looking forward to All My Sons. I haven’t been on stage in a very long time, it’s been 18-19 years.
Timothy Kane: That’s a hard one. It’s been a 16-year collaboration, and I think it’s been something like 10 shows? The first one was very dear to me—that is when I got to work with Charlie [Newell] and the Court for the first time. The role was Laertes in Hamlet (2002).
What appealed to you about performing in All My Sons?
JJ: All My Sons is a great story, American classic. Trying to plumb the depths of the character to see if I can deliver.
KC: All My Sons is an “everyman’s tragedy.” It seems to me like this is happening, potentially, to every household. Every household is dealing with their own tragic story. Even happy households have tragic stories.
TK: To be in an Arthur Miller play. When Charlie approached me about this opportunity I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Miller’s play deals with a number of themes—guilt and blame, deceit, justice and morality, and so one. What theme(s) in All My Sons speak most to you?
JJ: Not one in particular, personally, more than another one. If those are the themes of the play, that’s enough—that’s a lot. There is no one theme that dominates, for me.
KC: To me, the greek archetype of Cassandra is a very close relative to Kate Keller, to this Mom character. I am interested in this as a love story: the love of her children, love of her husband, love of the family unit as a third entity, and that Kate sees the truth, which people may or may not want to acknowledge. And how do you live with that? Truth vs. fact—do they become the same, are they different? What is the cost of living with “fake fact,” and the emotional toll that is ultimately paid if you live in “fake truth?” I think that is very interesting, because we all make-up our reality, but at what cost to our humanity?
TK: The most compelling theme, when I read the play now, is the theme of guilt and blame. Very powerful and destructive parts of being human, and seeing the undertow of how it can drag you down if you are not mindful and honest with yourself.
“All My Sons,” written by Arthur Miller and director by David Auburn, premiered at the Court Theater on January 11, 2018.