Call it “A View From the Barge.”
A tragic play about a Red Hook dock worker will get a new production next week, performed on boat just a few blocks from its setting. Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic “A View from the Bridge” will start a nine-performance run at the Waterfront Barge Museum floating just off Red Hook on May 31. Miller wrote the play six decades ago, but its discussion of immigration and xenophobia have clear parallels for modern audiences, said the show’s director.
“It is political in that you’re looking at how a society reacts to strangers, to the economic demands of people coming in illegally and getting jobs,” said Alex Dmitriev, from the Brave New World Repertory Theatre. “All this is inherent in the words and the texts and the behavior of the characters — you’re seeing the shape of the society that these people live in by their behavior.”
The play focuses on married longshoreman Eddie Carbone, who grapples with his attraction to his 17-year-old niece Catherine. When his cousin, an illegal Italian immigrant named Rodolpho, also falls in love with her, Eddie lashes out, reporting Rodolpho and his brother to immigration agents, and sealing his own tragic fate.
Dmitriev said that Miller writes Eddie’s character in a way that helps audience members see the societal context that leads him to fear and ostracize immigrants, just like many Trump voters do today.
“You’ve got millions of decent people around this country who are hardworking and love their family and have their religion, but they voted for Trump. They react as they were raised and as they feel threatened,” he said. “It’s the same thing with Eddie: he’s a hardworking guy, he sacrificed to raise his niece, he has dreams for her. He makes choices with the information he has been given — whether it’s interpreted correctly or incorrectly — which leads him to his destiny.”
The unique stage of the Waterfront Barge Museum helps to reinforce the themes of the play, said Dmitriev, forcing audience members to confront the uncomfortable talk about immigration happening just a few feet away.
“It just seemed like a wonderfully appropriate place for the story,” he said. “This is a very tight space; it’s much more intimate. There’s nowhere to hide — for the actor or the audience.”
“A View from the Bridge” at the Waterfront Barge Museum (290 Conover St. between Reed Street and the water in Red Hook, www.water