2016 Reading List #69: Playing for Time, by Arthur Miller

My journey through Arthur Miller’s collected works is nearly complete!

After finishing Playing for Time, I just have four more plays to read of Miller’s, so I’m trying my best to keep myself from scrambling through them at the end of the year.

Playing for Time was a different experience from many of Miller’s other works because it’s actually a screenplay for a TV movie (I didn’t know this until I’d already started reading). Miller won an Emmy award for his writing, and the film won several other Emmys as well.

Playing for Time is based on the true story of Fania Fénelon, a French singer sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Because she’s a singer, Fénelon’s life is spared so she can join the camp’s orchestra, but the musicians are only kept alive as long as the please the SS officers running the camp.

The story here is miraculous, but as it’s a screenplay, I imagine I would have gotten more from the work if I was seeing it. There are lots of details that I imagine play better visually than just reading them on a page, so I sometimes felt a bit distanced from the work.

For now, I think I’ll take a quick break from Miller to finish the only other current reading project I have (an accomplishment, since I was reading 4 books at the beginning of last week), Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. After this, I’ll likely return to Miller to read another play or two so I can cross this goal off my list some time in December.


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