Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Albee Turns 80!

Posted by Billy Christopher Maupin

(NOTE: This post was written on Wednesday, but found itself stuck in draft mode until today.)

Today (March 12) is the birthday of one of our greatest living playwrights, Edward Albee. Since 1959, Albee's plays have been produced all over the world. In fact, his first play, The Zoo Story, was originally produced in Berlin (through some circuitious networking, following numerous rejections from New York producers). The Zoo Story was then produced in New York City the following year on a double bill with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.

Albee's work continues even now, almost 50 years later. Occupant will premiere in April at Signature Theatre in New York. Occupant was originally to open in 2002, but only made it through a week of preview performances before Anne Bancroft was taken with illness. The premiere production will star Mercedes Ruehl (Tony-nominated for her performance in Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?). The world premiere of his newest work Me, Myself, and I (about twin brothers, both named Otto, and starring Tyne Daly) had a January-February run at the MacCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ.

According to GOING ON...BARKSDALE THEATRE: The first thirty-one years, Barksdale Theatre produced the first professional production of an Albee work in Virginia in 1966 with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Hanover Tavern (and again in 1967with one cast change). Albee also appears in a picture on the porch of Hanover Tavern in 1978. (The caption of the picture above, to the left, also from the book, reads "Muriel's niece, Karen Schroll, a girl of obvious good taste.")

Other Richmond productions of his work include The American Dream at TheatreVirginia, Three Tall Women at Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn (starring Katie McCall, Yvonne Erickson, and Mary Sue Carroll, pictured to the left), The Death of Bessie Smith at the Firehouse Theatre Project (accompanied by a visit by Albee himself and "An Evening with Edward Albee"), an independently produced production of The Zoo Story at Fielden's Cabaret Theatre, The American Dream (FTP), and most recently The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? also at the Firehouse Theatre Project.

So "Happy Birthday!" (However now belated...) to perhaps our greatest living playwright!

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