The first Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Dramatists Guild
The Dramatists Guild of America has never given a Lifetime Achievement award before. Not that our members haven’t had both lifetimes…and achievements, but no American playwright has had a whole lifetime of achievement like Arthur Miller.
And while other groups have honored his achievements, giving him his Pulitzer, his Tony, his Oliver, his Emmy, his Drama Critics Circle, his Kennedy Center Honor, and all his other truly countless awards, his fellow dramatists want to thank him for his lifetime. We want to honor his courageous life in the theatre and his incomparable presence as a theatrical force in the world at large.
He has been our ambassador abroad, fighting for the freedom of imprisoned writers all over the world. And he has been our champion at home, fighting for the existence of serious work in a theater whose increasing commercialization threatens the survival of every writer in this room.
Arthur Miller is the only American dramatist whose first play on Broadway opened 52 years ago, and whose most recent play on Broadway opened last month. He has written nineteen plays…so far. Among them are some of the most revered works in the American dramatic canon: All My Sons, After the Fall, The Crucible, The Price, The American Clock, A View from the Bridge, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, and that masterpiece of dramatic literature, Death of A Salesman.
We thank him not only for writing these plays, but for writing these kinds of plays, tragedies about Americans, about little men, as Mr. Miller’s heroes were called when they first appeared. But he did not back down in the face of this criticism. He did not even back off. He went back to his typewriter again and again, and proved beyond a doubt that these so-called little men do indeed suffer tragic losses, and that to regain their dignity, they will lay down their lives as nobly as any King ever did.
In writing about Willy Loman, Arthur Miller writes about all of us, about our indestructible will to achieve our humanity, about our fear of being torn away from what and who we are in this world, about our fear of being displaced and forgotten. And today, he says, this fear is as strong as it ever was in the days of the Kings, perhaps stronger.
Playwrights know about the fear of being displaced, of being torn away from the world where we belong. Every morning, this fear stands between us and the computer screen. But Arthur Miller’s life makes it seem possible to go on writing, and that possibility may be all you need a lot of mornings.
Arthur Miller has proven beyond a doubt that you can work fifty years in the American theater and come out with your reputation secure, and your dignity intact. Like some valiant literary war hero, he has led us onto the beachhead and dared us to follow.
Arthur Miller has stood up to the toughest forces on the American scene and he has triumphed. He has stared down fame and fortune and success and failure and Joe McCarthy and Joe DeMaggio and war and peace and time itself. The culture has thrown everything it had at Arthur Miller, and he is still standing.
For the vision he has maintained,
For the victory he has claimed,
The Dramatists Guild of America presents its Lifetime Achievement Award to Arthur Miller.