Death of a Salesman – Rhinegold Publishing

Death of a Salesman


The Edexcel specification allows teachers to select texts to suit their own tastes and the needs of their students. After a three-week introduction to the course with a crash course in theatre history and three sessions on Stanislavski, I chose to explore Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman with a group comprising seven boys and two girls as a naturalistic text where I could apply Stanislavski’s system to the exploration process. I considered that the time was especially right for this universal modern tragedy due to the global recession and so called ‘credit crunch.’ The specification for unit 1 demands that we base our workshops around eight dramatic elements: language, voice, non verbal communication, characterisation, visual aural and spatial elements, directorial interpretation, social/historical context and theatre practitioners. Obviously these elements overlap and can be combined, but for the sake of clarity I have found it best to focus eight sessions on the elements to help the students make notes after or at the end of each double lesson of 100 minutes. In these sessions pupils are assessed for their practical exploration skills and they have to make research notes on the eight elements demonstrating a synthesis of practical experience and dramatic understanding.

Learning objectives:

  • Enjoy the exploration of Death of a Salesman and the American Dream and have empathy for the characters in the play
  • Make discoveries about how modern tragedy works in light of Aristotle and Shakespeare
  • Approach the text using a naturalistic acting style with an American accent
  • Reflect on economic and political issues and relate to present day global recession
  • Explore and provide snapshots of understanding about the eight dramatic elements.

Number of lessons: 8

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