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Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Feature
An Overview of Edward Albee's Career


Check out our Playwright's Album for more famous playwright profiles


Topics Covered
Personal Statistics

Chronology of Produced Plays

Trademarks Of Albee's Plays

Links To Reviews, Books, Plays

Quotes From Albee's Plays



Personal Statistics
Edward Albee
Edward Albee
Edward F. Albee was born in Virginia on March 12th 1928, adopted by Reed and Frances Albee. His father was part owner of the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit. Edward was raised in luxury, in the family's Larchmont mansion, also occupied by Mrs. Albee's mother to whom he became very attached. Grandma Cotter, to whom he dedicated his 1960 play The Sandbox, left him a trust fund that enabled him to strike out on his own. Since his parents spent winters in Florida and Arizona, Edward's grade school education was frequently interrupted and at age eleven he was sent to the first of several boarding schools (one of which was a military academy he hated and likened to a concentration camp), with Choate the one where he felt most nurtured and began writing (poems, stories, plays). He ended his formal education after a year and a half (1946-47) Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Albee's first job was writing continuity dialogue for radio station WNYC. After leaving his parents' home to settle in Greenwich Village he spend years holding a variety of jobs -- including three years as a Western Union messenger. They supplemented his trust and were chosen because they were dead ends and would not interfere with his primary vocation: writing.

His artistic endeavors were filled with frustration. He lived for nearly half a year in Italy where he wrote a novel which has never been published. W. H. Auden whom he met in New York, read some of his poetry and suggested that he write pornographic verse as an exercise to improve his style. In New Hampshire he met Thornton Wilder who advised him to turn his efforts toward drama upon which Albee steeped himself in everything even mildly important.

On his thirtieth birthday in 1958, he quit his job with Western Union and wrote The Zoo Story in three weeks. After being rejected by several New York producers, the play had its premiere The Zoo Story's premiere at the Schiller Theater Werkstatt in Berlin on September 28, 1959. Four months later it was paired with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape at the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village. Its reception was favorable and won Albee the recognition as a formidable talent. In 1960 it won the Vernon Rice Memorial Award in 1960.

Albee's first and major "hit" was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which opened at Broadway's Billy Rose Theater on October 3, 1963, starring Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill as the battling George and Martha. It ran for 664 performances and was made into a popular film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Like Euguene O'Neill Albee nabbed three Pulitzers, for A Delicate Balance in 1966, Seascape in 1975 and Three Tall Women in 1991. This last seemed to restore his popularity with New York critics and audiences who had been treating him like the unwelcome guests in plays like A Delicate Balance.

The strong reviews of The Play About the Baby during the 2000-2001 season seemed to point to his beating O'Neill's Pulitzer record. This was not to be, however, and Baby, which like Three Tall Women, opened Off-Broadway had a respectable but limited run. Today Albee remains active, writing, producing and directing his plays, as well as teaching at the School of Theatre of the University of Houston and giving lectures on his work at colleges around the country.

Mr. Albee himself directed the last Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with the late Colleen Dewhurst, and Ben Gazzara. Thirty years later, in 2005, the British director Anthony Page directed Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin -- with their young guests played by David Harbour and Mireille Enos. It made numerous awards lists in the Best Revival category and for the leads. Even before the finalists were announced, the Tony Awards committee honored the playwright with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.



Chronology of Produced Plays
The Zoo Story (1958)
The Death of Bessie Smith (1959)
The Sandbox (l959)
Fam and Yam (1959)
The American Dream (1960)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, Tony Award)
Tiny Alice (1964)
A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize)
Box and Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (1968)
All Over (1971)
Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize)
Listening (1975)
Counting the Ways (l976)
The Lady From Dubuque (1977-78)
Another Part of the Zoo (1981)
The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981-82)
Finding the Sun (1982-83)
Marriage Play (1987)
Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize)
Fragments (1993)
The Lorca Plays (1995)
The Play About the Baby (2001) The Goat - or - Who Is Sylvia? (2002) Occupant (2002) Peter and Jerry (Act One: Homelife. ACT Two: The Zoo Story) (2004)

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Trademarks Of Albee's Plays
Albee can be classified with theatrical experimenters whose work jumped the boundaries of American drama. His style embraces existentialism, abusurdism as well as the metaphysical. His plays tend to puzzle. While not easy "night out" fare they are also full of satirically witty and sharp dialogue. The Albee audience consists of those who value being challenged and appreciate theater that, if it existed, would fit into the School of Anti-Complacency. His failures at the box office are as well known as his critical successes. As described by the playwright himself his plays are" an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, and emasculation and vacuity, a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachy-keen."

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Links To Reviews, Features and Books
At Home at the Zoo (Philadelphia 2009)
The American Dream and The Sandbox(2008)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (2005 Broadway revival)
Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? (Steppenwolf-Chicago
Beckett/Albee (Albee's Counting the Ways paired with 3 Beckett monologues
All Over
A Delicate Balanc/ (London 2011)
A Delicate Balance (Berkshire Theatre Festival 2010)
A Delicate Balance (Los Angeles)
The Goat
The Lady From Dubuque (London, 2007)
Me, Myself & I (Playwrights Horizon, NY 2010)
Me, Myself & I (McCarter Theater, NJ 2008)
Occupant/ Edward Albee (2008)
Peter and Jerry (act 1: Homelife; act 2 :The Zoo Story)(2007)
The Play About the Baby
Seascape
Tiny Alice/Albee, Edward


Features
Beckett, the Spiritual Matchmaker Behind the Summer 2001 Mating of Albee and Pinter.

Books
Edward Albee: A Singular Journey  by Mel Gussow. . . PaperbackEdition. The New York Times theater critic has followed the Pulitzer prize winning playwright's personal and professional ups and downs closely. His biography includes interviews with colleagues and friends as well as personal experiences -- including the letter of apology following a rude, drunken encounter at a dinner party. 


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Quotes by Albee
The only time I'll get good reviews is if I kill myself. -- Edward Albee

I have been both overpraised and underpraised. I assume by the time I finish writing - and I plan to go on writing until I'm ninety or gaga - it will all equal itself out... You can't involve yourself with the vicissitudes of fashion or critical response. -- Edward Albee

A playwright is someone who lets his guts hang out on the stage. . . --Edward Albee

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. . .  -- George
I. . . am. . . George. . . I am -- Martha

Who's Afraid of Vriginia Wolf
You gotta have a swine to show you where the truffles are -- Ibid

Oh what a wangled teb we weave. Wounds, children, wounds. Learn from it. Without wounds, what are you? -- Man, The Play About the Baby

If you have no wounds how can you know if you're alive? If you have no scar how do you know who you are? Have been? Can ever be? -- Man, The Play About the Baby

We manufacture such a portion of our own despair. . .---Agnes, Act 3 A Delicate Balance.

You have brought me down to nothing. . .and, Christ!, I'll bring you down with me!.
--- Stevie, The Goat
The sense that everything's going right is a sure sense that everything's going wrong.
--- Stevie, The Goat

I want the whole day to rewind -- start over. I want the reel to reverse.
--- Stevie, The Goat

We have a straight line through life, right all the way to dying, but that's OK because it's a good line. . .so long as we don't screw up. . .And you've screwed up!
--- Stevie, The Goat

. . .don't you see the 'thing' that happened to me? What nobody understands? Why I can't feel what I'm supposed to!? Because it relates to nothing? It can't have happened! It did, but it can't have!
--- Martin, The Goat

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