MU theater takes on Lee Miller in “Behind the Eye”

Dan Lancellotti
Arts & Culture Editor

Lee Miller had to work her way up with assignments with Vogue until she started to get photography work in the war. In the play she is an old woman who reflects on her life.
Lee Miller had to work her way up with assignments with Vogue until she started to get photography work in the war. In the play she is an old woman who reflects on her life.

Lee Miller was an amazing woman who began her career as a fashion model before getting the behind the camera. Though she was lowest in rank when it came to the delegation of projects, she remained determined to prove herself even as she was given routine fashion assignments.
She took her talents to World War II, where she chronicled the horrors and the spectacle of war through photography. Her life and work in the war is portrayed in the play “Behind the Eye” by Carson Kreitzer. The play ran in Philadelphia under Gas and Electric Arts and was directed by Lisa Jo Epstein. The play is coming to Millersville and Epstein will serve as guest director for the production.
The play caps off a yearlong project that humanities and social sciences setup. They interviewed several directors who all had plays that they would bring along with them. They decided that “Behind the Eye” worked because the work that Lee Miller did early on in life, and later in the war.

The soldier wanted Miller to take a picure to see how silly he looked in the bandages.
The soldier wanted Miller to take a picure to see how silly he looked in the bandages.

“It’s a theater piece about a visual artist…her life life touched many surreal artists,” said theater director Tony Elliot.
In the play Miller is 70 in present day, but she reflects back on her life. The structure can be sorted out through the men that she is with as she goes through different periods of her life. After her modeling career she meets Man Ray and does surreal art with him. She is much younger than he is, but like most of the men in her life he lusts after her and they begin a relationship. Next came her marriage to the Egyptian businessman Aziz. This did not last long as she became bored of Egypt and wanted to go back to Paris. When she was here she met Roland and began her longest relationship. In the war she meets Dave, and the two work together and begin an affair that ends amicably. When she returns to Roland she can finally start to live out her real relationship.

This image shows models in front of Roland’s (Lee Miller’s husband) bomb shelter in London.
This image shows models in front of Roland’s (Lee Miller’s husband) bomb shelter in London.

The VPAC will be showing some of Miller’s photographs in the art gallery. Many of the photographs are hard to look at but they have an impact that stays with you. Her companion war companion David Scherman called her photo of a severely burned man covered in bandages her best of the entire war. “That says war better, than any of her other pictures,” said Scherman. The man’s injuries are completely concealed, so the wounds underneath are left up to the imagination of the viewer. The image of of two women with gas masks are meant to show the steely reserve of London during the bombings, and the one of the burning house is actually belonged to Hitler.
It will be interesting to see how the play is adapted because the structure is so strange, but the theater department has put its full support behind it. “Behind the Eye” opens April 26 and 27 at 8:00 p.m., April 28 and May 5 at 2:00 p.m., and May 2, 3, and 4 at 8:00 p.m.