My theater class's final exam is a giant project dealing with Death of a Salesman. I gave them twelve possible activities, and they have to complete eight. These go from short answer questions to designing costumes to writing essays, and everything in between.

One of the activities that they like the most is creating a playlist for the characters. They have to choose at least ten songs that represent a character, write why they chose the song and how it relates to the character's philosophy or lifestyle, and give me a cd of their songs.

It sounded so fun that I did it myself.

(I won't write why I chose the songs, partly because I don't want to influence your interpretation, and partly because the explanations are on my computer at school and I don't have them here.)

Biff's Playlist

Biff is a lost boy. His dreams were crushed when he was seventeen, when he found out his dad wasn't the heroic man he thought him to be. He refused to go to summer school, which resulted in his failure to graduate from high school, and he's kind of been on the run for seventeen years. He works as an itinerant farmhand and has spent some time in jail. For the first time in his life, he's decided to be honest, both with himself and his family, and it comes with a high price.

Biff breaks my heart every time.

Here I Go Again, Whitesnake
Ramblin' Man, Allman Brothers
My Own Prison, Creed
Something to Believe In, Poison
Loser, Beck
Hurt, Johnny Cash
18 and Life, Skid Row
I'm Not Alright, Sanctus Real
Welcome to the Jungle, Guns n Roses
This Used to Be My Playground, Madonna
The World I Know, Collective Soul
Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio
Roam, B-52s
Wild, Wild West, The Escape Club
Cat's in the Cradle, Harry Chapin

Willy's Playlist

Willy is the salesman in the title. He's convinced himself that he is a well-liked, well-respected, successful salesman, and maybe he was at one time. Since Biff ran off, Willy's gone downhill. He'd pinned all his hopes on his older son, and his turning out to be such a massive screw-up really takes a toll on Willy. Also, he refuses to acknowledge that Biff's downward spiral is a direct result of Willy's own actions. He's determined to give Biff a reason to love him again, even if it costs him his life.

The Dance, Garth Brooks
Dust in the Wind, Kansas
Eleanor Rigby, Beatles
Help, Beatles
How You Remind Me, Nickelback
The Impossible Dream (The Quest), from Man of La Mancha
Memory, from Cats
My Way, Frank Sinatra
Wicked Web, Waterdeep
At the End of the Day, Les Miserable
Landslide, Dixie Chicks
Don't Stop Believin', Journey
Close My Eyes Forever, Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford

Linda's Playlist

It's really hard for me to pin down who Linda is. She's the typical supportive household of the early-to-mid 20th century, but she does at least seem to have her eyes open as to who Willy really is. She knows exactly who her boys are, that's for sure. She's content to build Willy up and buy his puffed up descriptions of himself, but she's also pragmatic and realistic enough to realize that she has to take everything he says with a grain of salt. She loves Willy, and she puts up with a lot from him. I guess it's just hard for me to understand why she stays with him.

(Linda's is the shortest playlist I did, because it's kind of difficult to find songs about staying with your abusive man in this age of empowerment and angry rocker chicks.)

Holding Out for a Hero, Bonnie Tyler
I'll Be, Edward McCain
I'll Be There for You, The Rembrandts
Just the Way You Are, Billy Joel
Let's Hear It for the Boy, Deniece Williams
I'll Cover You, from Rent
Endless Love, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

Happy's Playlist

Happy is all about sex. Sex, sex, sex. He never got attention from his dad when he was a kid--Biff was the golden child--so Happy has set out to grab the spotlight in other ways. He is a smooth operator, I guess, and he's seduced several women just weeks before their weddings. He loves 'em and leaves 'em; he knows he's a dog, and he SAYS he hates himself for it, but I don't believe it. Happy is just like Willy, in that he exaggerates his own success, so I wonder, too, if he hasn't also exaggerated his sexual prowess. In a pivotal scene, Happy leaves his dad--who is having a dementia episode--in a restaurant bathroom and goes off with two prostitutes. Even while Biff is having his Truth Tirade, Happy tries to smooth it all over with MORE LIES.

I hate Happy.

However, his was the most fun playlist to put together.

Look What the Cat Dragged In, Poison
Dr. Feelgood, Motley Crue
Barracuda, Heart
Cradle of Love, Billy Idol
Pour Some Sugar on Me, Def Leppard
Brickhouse, Commodores
Cherry Pie, Warrant
Talk Dirty to Me, Poison
Heartbreaker, Pat Benatar
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
I'm Too Sexy, Right Said Fred <--- About this one, I remember saying that Happy's exactly the kind of guy who would sing this non-ironically while giving himself the finger guns in the mirror. That image cracks me up.
Give It to You, Jordan Knight


Angela said...

you are my hero. wish we could have awesome assignments like that!!

Mei said...

Times are changing, and I'm just trying to keep my assignments relevant. I have to admit that this is not an original idea, but I don't remember where I first read about it. It's a good one, though, and one that can be adapted for any piece of literature.


Made by Lena