In the #MeToo age, Death of a Salesman ‘has some fatherly advice’

«I think what we’re discovering more and more is that Willy Loman doesn’t know how to be a father because his father left when he was three or four years old.

«So he became a breadwinner earlier and he doesn’t actually know how to bring up these two boys and he really implicates [INCULCATES?] the American dream into them — be positive, be liked, it doesn’t really matter what you do, it’s what you say and the people you know.

«There are a couple of great moments in the play where Willy says, how should I teach them, and that is what I think makes this play relevant now.»

Despite knowing the lead role would require stamina and a lot of work, Kowitz accepted after being approached more than once by Queensland Theatre artistic director Sam Strong, whom he worked with on other Sydney and Melbourne productions.

«I’m confident enough in myself as an actor that I don’t feel intimidated by any of them [roles] … so I’m ready for the challenge, I was ready for it,» he said.

«I’m glad Sam asked me because I was enthusiastic, but I thought maybe I’ll let it go by, but then he asked again because he knows I’m a Queenslander and he thought it might be a good idea for me to come back and play the role.»

Peter Kowitz during rehearsals. This could be one of his last plays, with thoughts of retirement creeping into his mind.

Peter Kowitz during rehearsals. This could be one of his last plays, with thoughts of retirement creeping into his mind.

The Queensland production features a host of local talent including Brisbane-based director Jason Klarwein, Queensland Conservatorium graduate Jackson McGovern (Willy’s son Happy), Brisbane-based Charles Allen (Willy’s friend Charley) and Brisbane-born Angie Milliken (Willy’s wife Linda).

It sticks to the original script and Kowitz remains confident it will be a hit with audiences.

«I think it’s going to be a pretty bloody good one … it’s a great play and with a great play brings the responsibility to any person who takes it on to not destroy it … I think right from the first read we thought we were going to hit a few runs with this show,» he said.


Kowitz was born in Leyburn, near Toowoomba, and started at The Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe before going on to the Queensland Theatre Company.

The 65-year-old has worked with major theatre productions across the country and has toured Germany and New Zealand.

Kowitz has also featured in TV series including Janet King, Water Rats, Supernova, Packed to the Rafters and McLeod’s Daughters.

He still has family in Brisbane and Toowoomba and visits at least once a year.

«I was always indebted to this company [Queensland Theatre] because I had no intention of being an actor when I went to university, I didn’t even know you could be an actor — it was just outside what anyone from country Queensland would think of themselves to be,» Kowitz said.

Queensland Theatre’s Death of a Salesman can be seen at QPAC’s Playhouse Theatre from February 9 to March 2. More information and tickets can be found here.

Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times

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