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Dear Mr Smith,
I am writing to you with reference to your proposed production of my
play 'All My Sons'. I, like most authors, have standards and
expectations for productions of my writing, which is why I have
decided to write to you and inform you of some criteria that might
help you in the production of 'All My Sons'.
In the 1920's after the First World War, many countries were bankrupt
because of the amount of money they had invested into the war. The USA
came to their rescue by loaning them vast amounts of money to pay off
debts. In 1929, share prices fell and so the USA called back for the
loans that they had lent but the countries were still in debt. Many
Americans tried to take their money out of the banks but the banks
hadn't any money to give to customers. This contributed to the Great
Depression, which made a massive increase in unemployment. One of the
people who became unemployed was my father, a coat manufacturer. This
was the initial inspiration of writing 'All My Sons'.
Another reason that inspired me to write 'All My Sons', was the way
that events during the Second World War were making Americans live and
treat each other differently. I experienced the wave of patriotism and
I also saw how fellow Americans were exploiting the war and making
profit from other's suffering. By writing this play, I felt that
citizens of the world would finally be able to see an image of the
real American Middle Class character, reflecting their self-interest.
In 'All My Sons', Keller talks about "little men" when describing
Steve Deever. This is ironic because Keller himself is a little man.
"Little men" are people that always compete with each other so that
they would be better than the next person, they don't really think
about what they are doing as long as they are successful. When
something bad happens, the "little men" don't have the courage to own
up to the big men. "Little men" are a problem in today's society, as
they don't care to have responsibility over their actions even when
the problems could be sorted out simply (Keller could have told Steve
not to give the parts to the army and then death wouldn't be the
The audience can now see Keller in two different ways. To some people
Keller may seem selfish and irresponsible and too others Keller may be
loving and hard working. Keller's two sides are all at the expense of
other people and cause their suffering such as Steve and the airman.
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want the audience to realise that peoples "little men" attitudes have
far greater implications for society. Their world, understanding and
conscience must go beyond their garden fences.
I believe that everyone has a responsibility to society, so that
everyone, not just themselves, can live a better life. Families are
important but they are part of society as well. They use public
hospitals, public buses and walk down public streets. Think about it
in this way, Keller led twenty-one men to their deaths. Twenty-one
people who wouldn't be able to fight for Americans anymore and there
would be more chance of peoples lives, maybe Keller's family being
endangered. Isn't it a man's responsibility, to protect society for
his family's sake?
Joe Keller is a sixty-one year old man who believes strongly that his
family is the most important thing in his life. His education wasn't
very good and he isn't very smart but he has worked hard and has
become a successful business owner, which isn't easy. Joe is not a bad
man. He loves his family but does not see the universal human "family"
which has a higher claim on his duty. He may think he has got away
with his crime, but is troubled by the thought of it. He relies on his
wife, Kate, not to betray his guilt. The reason that he let the
defective parts go was so that he could leave an inheritance for
Chris. This shows how much he loves his family, he is willing to lie
and let the punishment fall on someone else. As I started to write the
play, I made Keller a likeable person to let the audience engage with
him. I didn't want the audience to realize to early that Keller's life
is not as straightforward as it may seem because I thought it would
take away the tension of the important scene where everybody finds out
that Keller was to blame. It is important for the audience to connect
with Keller strongly so that when they realize it was Keller's fault
that airmen died, they will see him in a selfish way and difficult
feelings will arouse because the audience feel guilty that they liked
To make Keller have a likeable appearance, I think that the actor who
plays Keller should be a stocky man with a smile always on his face.
The stockiness would show that Keller has led an enjoyable life and
has been successful as he has been able to feed himself well. The
smile would show that he is innocent and a friendly person. The
clothes that he wears could also show what Keller is like. A plain
white shirt could illustrate to the audience that Keller has led a
simple life. A pair of fading, blue jeans may well represent that
Keller's time is nearly over as his life ends at the end of the day. I
believe that Keller's speech should be quite different to all the
"When he reads, when he speaks, when he listens, it is with the
terrible concentration of the uneducated man for whom there is still
wonder in many commonly known things."
This shows that Keller isn't very educated and has to think about even
simple things. I think that having Keller speak differently could
portray this. After every sentence that Keller says, he would take a
longer breath than other actors. During this pause Keller's simplicity
could be emphasised by having Keller squint when he looks around to
make him look that he really has to concentrate.
Kate Keller is in her early fifties and is a key character in my play.
She is the one that truly believes that her youngest son, Larry, is
Her love towards her family is unquestionable and it is this love that
puts her in denial, makes her head ache and cause her to become a
neurotic. After three years of being missing, Kate still argues that
her son is still alive.
"Only last week a man turned up in Detroit, missing longer than
Kate blanks out all of common sense to believe that Larry is alive.
Whenever a person talks about Larry as if he is dead, Kate suddenly
gets a headache or makes some tea so that they see she is
uncomfortable. She perseveres to keep him alive and does anything such
as look to the stars to make sure that everyone will believe that
Larry isn't dead.
"Your brother's alive, darling, because if he's dead, your father
The reason she acts the way she does about Larry is because of a
secret that she knows. Kate is a woman of enormous maternal love,
which extends to her neighbours' children, notably George. Despite her
instinctive warmth, she is capable of supporting Joe in his deceit. To
believe Larry is dead would be to believe his death was a punishment
of Joe's crime (an intolerable thought), as she believes it would be
"God does not let a son be killed by his father."
So she must persuade herself that Larry still lives. Joe sees this
idea to be ridiculous, but must tolerate it to secure Kate's support
for his own deception.
I think Kate's loyalty to Keller could be shown successfully through
Kate's body language towards Keller. When Keller and Kate are talking
to someone, Keller can sit in a chair and Kate could have a hand on
his shoulder to show that she will always be with him, even if he has
done some awful things. I feel that Kate is the kind of person who
insists on perfection. This is because Kate is always expecting Larry
home and wants him to come back to perfect conditions. This sense of
tidiness could be reflected on Kate's appearance. She could wear a
sensible dress without any creases and having her hair in a faultless
bob. Also, whenever anyone enters the stage, Kate can look to him or
her in hope that they will be Larry and then she can sigh. This would
show how much Kate wants Larry back.
Chris Keller has been changed by his experience of war, where he has
seen men laying down their lives for their country. He is angry that
the world has not been changed, that the selflessness of his fellow
soldiers counts for nothing. He feels guilty to make money out of a
business, which does not value the men whose worthy actions it relied
on. Chris is a completely contrasting character compared to his
father, Keller. Their morals are totally different and I think Chris
represents my principles the best.
"â€¦that's the kind of guys I had. They didn't die; they killed
themselves for each other. I mean that exactly; a little more selfish
and they'd've been here today."
Chris believes that every man owes something to society, for these
innocent men who gave their lives in the war. He feels guilty to have
nice things because he knows that a man died so that you could have
it. Chris loves his parents and wants to be a good son, but now he
wants to live. He is in love with Ann, his brother's ex girlfriend.
First he felt guilty to be in love with her, because if his brother
hadn't of died in the war then she wouldn't be available, but now
Chris realises he loves Ann very much. Keller is happy for them both
as long as Chris takes the business from him as that is all he has
worked for during his life. Kate thinks the idea is very wrong, as she
still believes that Larry is going to come back. Chris wants Keller to
make Kate get used to the idea that him and Ann are in love, or he
will leave the business and move with Ann to New York and start a new
life. I want people to respect Chris for having good morals, so he
should wear smart clothes, which the audience will like. When Chris,
walks around the stage, I want him to go right to the edges, to show
that to him, the world is more than his forty foot garden.
Ann Deever shares Chris's ideas about more social responsibility but
believes he should not feel ashamed by his wealth. She believes
Keller's father had nothing to do with the killing of the airmen, so
she finds nothing wrong with Chris inheriting the business and the
money. She disowns her father whom she thinks is guilty. Unlike Kate,
Ann is not waiting for Larry, her ex boyfriend to come back from the
war, as she knows he is dead. Now she is in love with Chris, Kate's
other son, and wants to marry him. She has no bad feelings about
marrying the brother of her dead ex boyfriend. Kate counters the idea
that Chris and Ann would marry, as she still believes that Ann is
still "Larry's Girl". Kate tries to convince Ann that Larry is going
to come back, but Ann is deeply in love with Chris. Ann has no wish to
hurt Kate, as they have known each other since Ann was born, but she
will show her Larry's letter if Kate remains opposed to Ann's marrying
"I'm not trying to hurt you, Kate. You're making me do this, now
remember you're - Remember."
On stage, I would like Ann to be very pretty and have a really short,
beautiful dress, which shows off her legs for the Keller's to comment
"You got nice legs, Annie!"
George Deever is a soul mate of Chris. When younger, he greatly
admired him. He believed that his father, Steve is guilty of murder,
but now after talking with his dad, he now understands that it was
Keller who is really to blame. Now he reproaches the Keller family to
find out the truth. When he enters the Keller's garden, he refuses Ann
to marry Chris, the son of the man who sent his own father to jail.
When Kate enters, George tries to stay calm as he loves Kate as she
had been like a mother to him during his childhood. He agrees with
Kate that Ann should leave but for very different reasons. George has
grown bitter because in life he has sacrificed his own happiness for
the happiness of others, such as giving up Lydia to fight in the war.
I think on stage, George should wear a business suit with a bowler
Dr. Jim Bayliss is a man who, in his youth, shared Chris's ideas, but
has been forced to compromise to look after his wife's needs. He is
fair to his wife, but wants to make the world a better place. His wife
thinks this is fine as long as it's paying the bills.
"It seems to me that for ten dollars you could hold his hand."
If any characters speak for me, it is Jim and Chris, because they
believe in all my morals.
Sue Bayliss is an utterly cynical woman. Believing Joe has "pulled a
fast one", she does not mind his awful crime, yet she dislikes Chris
because his idealism, which she calls "phoney", makes Jim feel
restless. She is an embittered, rather grasping woman, whose ambitions
are material wealth and social acceptance. She does not at all
understand the moral values which her husband shares with Chris.
Lydia Lubey is a one-dimensional character, she is chiefly in the play
to show what George and Chris (so far) have gone without. She is
simple, warm and affectionate, rather a stereotype of femininity (she
is confused by electrical appliances). Her meeting with George is
painful to observe: she has the happy home life, which he has
forfeited. We understand why George declines her well-meant invitation
to see her babies.
Frank Lubey (unlike George, Larry, Chris and Jim) is a materialist. He
lacks culture, education and real intelligence, but has made money in
business, and has courted Lydia while the slightly younger men were
fighting in the war. His dealings with astrology and horoscopes lends
support to Kate's wild belief that Larry is still alive.
In my play, there are no insignificant scenes in my play.
The first scene is very important as it introduces the importance of
the tree to the audience and it is the tree that starts off the
conversation between Keller and Frank, Keller's son Larry. The
audience need to know that this tree was planted specially for Larry.
The play also gives the audience a taste of what the characters are
like, e.g. Frank Lubey believes in astrology.
The next important scene is when Keller and Bert are talking. It shows
that Keller clearly doesn't feel guilty about jail as he talks about
them to Bert really freely.
"Bert, on my word of honour there's a jail in the basement."
Another important scene is when Keller talks to Chris and Ann about
Steve Deever. I wanted to make Keller talk in a style in which he was
actually talking about himself.
"You mustn't feel that away about him. You understand me? It ain't
Keller was trying to make Steve into a nicer person because he knew
that what Ann felt about her father, was actually what she thought of
Keller, even though she didn't know it. This is the most important
scene in the book I believe. This is the scene, where if Keller's body
language isn't right, he can give away his whole story. He should be
perspiring, but only so much that suspicion starts to arouse in Ann's
mind, "[She regards him a moment]: Joe, lets forget it." Chris and Ann
have already told Keller to stop talking about Steve but he carries
on. He's so guilty. He doesn't want Ann to hate him. In fact the
speech is much towards his son, Chris as well as Ann. If Ann hates her
own father so much for committing a crime, how much will Chris hate
him for committing a crime and lying about it?
There are some lines in my play, which have to be said in a special
way to give maximum effect upon the audience.
"Be smart now, Joe. The boy is coming. Be smart."
This line is important because Kate is trying to tell Keller that
George is coming back so he needs to be careful as they don't know
what he's going to do. Keller should become more nervous because he
knows that his secret might come out but his head show go up and he
should have an aggressive look on his face to show that he's got
nothing to hide and he will challenge anyone that thinks he is guilty.
Another important line is when Kate goes:
"You don't realize how people can hate, Chris, they can hate so much
they'll tear the world to pieces."
This line is trying to say that George might hate Chris so much, even
though they were childhood buddies. Kate should be nodding her head at
Chris because he is going to marry Ann and she knows this is wrong.
This is how I described the stage of "All My Sons":
"The stage is hedged on right and left by tall, closely planted
poplars which lend the yard a secluded atmosphere."
This is necessary to show to the audience, that Keller's world has a
forty-foot front. The trees close of the rest of the world around him
as they are so close together.
"In the left corner, downstage, stands the four-foot high stump of a
slender apple-tree whose upper trunk and branches lie toppled beside
it, fruit still clinging to its branches."
The broken tree is necessary to show that Larry may still be alive. It
is for the Keller's to remember Larry.
The garden chairs scattered around are important to show that there
has been a great storm the night before and the mess shows the power
of it. It is like an omen to Kate and Frank that it wasn't right to
plant a memorial tree for Larry as he wasn't dead.
This stage is good as it shows the unity of place, you don't need to
go to a different place as everything can take place in the garden.
I think appropriate music should be used for each scene to reflect the
atmosphere. Perhaps a drum beating when Kate makes a mistake and tells
George that Keller has never been sick, the drum could represent
tension rising in the play and Keller's racing heart beat when he
realises he might get caught out. The light should get slightly dimmer
to show that the day is going on and the night is going to arrive. The
grape drink is important in the play as it shows how Kate and George
were really close during his childhood.
'All My Sons' is a reflection of real life of the American Middle
Class and because of the reality of the play, there are a number of
messages that will be communicated to the audience to make the play
more effective. When the audience leave the theatre, I want them to
reflect on what they have seen and compare their values with Keller's.
When Keller sent off the detective plane parts to the army, I want the
audience to question was he right to do as he was keeping the
interests of his family in mind or was he wrong to do such a horrific
thing as he was simply leading innocent men to their deaths. It will
affect the audience greatly as they will probably also be middle class
people like the characters on stage.