Saturday 25 May 2019

Black cast will heighten story of Death Of A Salesman, says star Arinze Kene

The actor will star opposite Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke.

Arinze Kene (Ian West/PA)
Arinze Kene (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Arinze Kene has said the new production of Death Of A Salesman will be exponentially heightened by having black actors portraying the Loman family.

The actor will appear as Biff in the 1949 play about the downfall of the American Dream at the Young Vic, opposite The Wire star Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke.

Kene told the Press Association: “This is going to be incredible; for one, we know the story and Arthur Miller is an incredible writer, one of the best to ever have done it. Death Of A Salesman is a masterpiece, hands down.

“I think what Marianne Elliott (the director) has chosen to do with it, to make the Loman family a black family in that same period, in that same time, it heightens everything.

“When we read it, it just changes everything and it makes it so relevant to today with what is happening in America right now.

“Depending on who you are, you think the play is about something else, but for me one of the central questions of ambition and of the desperation that father has for the son to do well, it makes it more heightened.”

Speaking after announcing the nominations for the British Independent Film Awards (Bifas), Kene said he is optimistic about the state of the film industry in the UK.

He said: “We make authored work over here, money is not really the end-game of a lot of what we make over here, and so you end up making things that are quite meaningful.”

However, he said he cannot fault stars such as Idris Elba, David Oyelowo and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who have gone to the US in pursuit of better roles for black actors.

He said: “I’m staying here, I’m fighting the fight here. I can’t say I’m not getting really good roles because I am.

“Actors who are getting work are trail-blazing; I think it makes things easier for the next ones coming up and it lets the industry know there is no excuse, there is no excuse to not create diverse work.”

Death Of A Salesman will be at the Young Vic from May 1 to June 29 2019.

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