Show with the segment showing a scene from The Ryan Interview and discuss the two segments together.
Have students interview older people in their community.
Create a class timeline of 100 years. What was going on 100 years ago? What events and changes in lifestyle, technology, education, and family life would have occurred during the lifetime of someone born 100 years ago?
Science connection: Study aging. What happens to the body and mind as we age? What are challenges we face as individuals, families, and societies related to aging?
Social studies connection: Study the “industrialization” of America that took place during the 20th century and changing lifestyle patterns that resulted.
Social studies connection: Study the role and “value” on older people in a variety of cultures around the world.
Arthur Miller (1915-2005) is one of America’s most esteemed playwrights. Miller was born in New York City. His father lost his business during the Great Depression, an event that made a huge impression on Miller, perhaps planting the seed for what would become a recurring theme in his works—disillusion with “the American dream.”
Miller started write plays as a student at the University of Michigan, winning student awards for his works. In 1944, just four years after he graduated, his play The Man Who Had All the Luck premiered on Broadway. But it was flop, lasting only four performances. However, in 1947, his play All My Sons was successful on Broadway.
During his life Miller wrote plays, books, novels, nonfiction, and an autobiography, but his most famous work was the play “Death of a Salesman,” which premiered on Broadway in 1949. Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for drama as a result, and the lead character Willy Loman has become an American stage icon.
Other works by Miller include The Crucible. On the surface portraying the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1690s, it is considered a parable of the anti-communist “witch hunts” of the 1950s led by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.
The Ryan Interview was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville. The television adaptation done by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) premiered in national prime time in 2000.