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ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
prof. Anatoly Antohin Theatre UAF AK 99775 USA (907)474-5253
Internet2 Day presentation *
Writing credits Edward Albee (play) Ernest Lehman
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), a famous and shocking black comedy, was based on Edward Albee's scandalous play (Ernest Lehman's screenplay left the dialogue of the play virtually intact). It was first performed in New York in October of 1962, and it captured the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Tony Award for the 1962-3 season.
The film's title refers to Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), an influential British feminist writer who pioneered the 'stream of consciousness' literary style while examining the psychological and emotional motives of her characters. [Perhaps the 'fear' of VW refers to the film's characters who are suffering marital discord in the emotionally-draining film, and who may have 'known' that she suffered from mental illness and ultimately went insane and committed suicide.] The title is also a parody of Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?, a tune sung in Disney's Three Little Pigs (1933) animated short film. The names of the two major characters, George and Martha, are those of the first US President and his wife.
The searing film exhibited a fine sense of pacing, comic timing, and gripping buildup in a series of emotional climaxes. The shocking content - the dramatic portrayal of the destructive, sado-masochistic battles in one couple's tempestuous, love-hate relationship during a late night to dawn brawling encounter - was thought to be too vitriolic, frank, explicitly blasphemous and foul-mouthed for the film screen. [It was the first American film to use the expletive 'goddamn' and 'bugger'.] However, with studio boss Jack Warner's insistence on keeping the integrity of the play, and the teaming of real-life husband and wife mega-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the film was guaranteed success. The two portrayed an on-screen couple: a sharp-tongued but ineffectual professor (Burton) and his complaining wife (Taylor), in the company of a new professor (Segal) and his mousy wife (Dennis). [The couple had originally been teamed in the mega-flop Cleopatra (1963). Robert Redford rejected the role played by George Segal.]
The black-and-white film, masterfully directed by Mike Nichols (in his directorial screen debut), captured probably the greatest performance ever of Elizabeth Taylor's career (she won her second Academy Award as well as Best Actress praises from the New York Film Critics, the Nat'l Board of Review and the British Film Academy).
Woolf won five Academy Awards from its thirteen nominations: Best Actress (Elizabeth Taylor), Best Supporting Actress (Sandy Dennis), Best B/W Cinematography (Haskell Wexler), Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. The other eight nominations included Best Picture, Best Actor (Richard Burton), Best Supporting Actor (George Segal), Best Director (Mike Nichols), Best Screenplay (Ernest Lehman), Best Sound, Best Original Music Score, and Best Film Editing. [The film became noted as the only one in Academy history up to that point to be nominated in every eligible category. It was also the first film to have every member of its cast receive an acting nomination.] As compensation for his defeat this year, director Mike Nichols won the Best Director Oscar the next year for The Graduate (1967) over Norman Jewison, the director of the Best Picture victor In the Heat of the Night (1967).
[ http://www.filmsite.org/whos.html ]
The pages are lost, during the death of the Globe, but in order to keep the links working, I has to place the templates for now.Internet2 Day presentation *
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Play in three acts by Edward Albee, published and produced in 1962. The action takes place in the living room of a middle-aged couple, George and Martha, who have come home from a faculty party drunk and quarrelsome. When Nick, a young biology professor, and his strange wife Honey stop by for a nightcap, they are enlisted as fellow fighters, and the battle begins. A long night of malicious games, insults, humiliations, betrayals, painful confrontations, and savage witticisms ensues. The secrets of both couples are laid bare and illusions are viciously exposed. When, in a climactic moment, George decides to "kill" the son they have invented to compensate for their childlessness, George and Martha finally face the truth and, in a quiet ending to a noisy play, stand together against the world, sharing their sorrow.
DirectingEdward Albee: A Singular Journey With his off-Broadway success The Zoo Story in 1960 and the Broadway smash Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1962, Edward Albee announced himself as his generation's great American playwright. He had an unhappy childhood as the adopted son of wealthy suburbanites with no interest in his feelings or talents, and later immersed himself in the flourishing (but still closeted) New York gay scene of the 1950s. These seminal experiences gave Albee a sardonic, essentially bleak view of human relations that suited the questioning spirit of the '60s, as did his plays' absurdist tone and often experimental techniques. Alcoholism and bad reviews plagued him through much of the 1970s and '80s, but he emerged triumphant and sober in 1994 with the play Three Tall Women, which marked his mature understanding of his mother's life and won him a third Pulitzer Prize. Mel Gussow observed much of this personal and professional journey as a theater critic and an acquaintance; his book is a traditional biography based on research and interviews--with colleagues and friends as well as Albee himself--that also judiciously uses the author's firsthand experiences. (A section about the playwright's drunken rudeness at a dinner party and subsequent apologetic letter to Gussow is particularly revealing.) Gussow limns his subject's life with candor, but without prurience, and lucidly conveys Albee's importance in the American theater.
Volume I contains the eight plays written by Albee during his first decade as a playwright, from 1958 through 1965. These range from the four brilliant one-act plays with which he exploded on the New York theater scene in 1958-59 (The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Sandbox, and The American Dream) to his early masterpiece, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62). They also include two adaptations from notable American novels (The Ballad of the Sad Café and Malcolm) and Albee’s mysteriously fascinating Tiny Alice. The volume includes a new introduction by Mr. Albee.
3 Tall Women (Plume Drama) Albee's drama of an old woman coming to grips with her life and approaching death earned him his third Pulitzer.
Albee's best plays have always walked a line between heightened realism and dark comedy. Even his most surreal works are populated with characters who wouldn't seem out of place in real life. His 1994 Pulitzer Prize winner runs true to form. It begins as a naturalistic conversation among three women (identified as A, B, and C) from successive generations who meet in a hospital room. Each is undergoing a change from one life phase to another, and each faces her travails and disappointments with lots of Albee's trademark bitter wit. In the second act, however, the three women become representatives of the same person at different ages (26, 52, late 80s), and their bickering talk becomes a touching internal colloquy about life, love, and the inevitability of loss. Not since Beckett's brooding meditation Krapp's Last Tape has a playwright dealt so movingly with the subject of disappointment, aging, and death.
@2002 GeoAlaska *Edward Albee + EDWARD ALBEE: A SINGULAR JOURNEY by Mel Gussow
Edward Albee (playwright; born March 12, 1928, Washington, DC) Edward Albee burst onto the American theatrical scene in the late 1950s with a variety of plays that detailed the agonies and disillusionment of that decade and the transition from the placid Eisenhower years to the turbulent 1960s. Albee's plays, with their intensity, their grappling with modern themes, and their experiments in form, startled critics and audiences alike while changing the landscape of American drama. He was unanimously hailed as the successor to Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O'Neill. Albee's 25 plays form a body of work that is recognized as unique, uncompromising, controversial, elliptical, and provocative. A canon that is, as Albee himself describes it "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." No wonder, then, that this forty year career has seen as many commercial failures as successes. The '80s, in fact did not yield a single Albee play that could be considered a commercial hit. "There is not always a great relationship between popularity and excellence," he says. "You just have to make the assumption you're doing good work and go on doing it." Perseverance ultimately triumphed; his most recent drama reclaimed Albee's position as America's leading dramatists. Three Tall Women enjoyed a stunning, sold out success in New York and has been staged across the country and around the world. It received Best Play awards from the New York Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle and earned Albee his third Pulitzer Prize, an honor that is bested only by Eugene O'Neill's four awards. Born in Washington, D.C., Albee was adopted as an infant by Reid Albee, the son of Edward Franklin Albee of the powerful Keith Albee vaudeville chain. He was brought up in great affluence and sent to select preparatory and military schools. Almost from the beginning he clashed with the strong minded Mrs. Albee, rebelling against her attempts to make him a success as well as a sportsman and a member of the Larchmont, New York, social set. Instead, young Albee pursued his interest in the arts, writing macabre and bitter stories and poetry, while associating with artists and intellectuals considered objectionable by Mrs. Albee. Albee left home when he was 20 and moved to New York's Greenwich Village, where he took to the era's counterculture and avant garde movements. After using up his paternal grandmother's modest legacy, he took a variety of menial jobs until 1959 when The Zoo Story made him a famous playwright, first in Europe, where it premiered in Berlin, and then in New York. This short work, in which a bum entices an executive to commit murder, together with 1962's full length Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a brutal portrait of a hard drinking academic couple, and 1966's A Delicate Balance, his first Pulitzer Prize winner, created the mold for American drama for the rest of our century. Throughout his career, Albee has shown a fascination for a wide variety of theatrical styles and subjects. The Zoo Story conveyed the alienation and disillusionment of the existentialist drama. In 1959, Albee explored American race relations in the southern Gothic atmosphere of The Death of Bessie Smith. He gave birth to American absurdist drama with The Sandbox (1959) and The American Dream (1960). Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance are classic studies of American family life in the mode of O'Neill's Long's Day's Journey into Night. 1964's Tiny Alice is a metaphysical dream play in which Albee explores his persistent theme of reality versus illusion, this time out in mystical, abstract, and even religious terms. In 1975, Albee won his second Pulitzer Prize with Seascape, which combined theatrical experiment and social commentary in a story about a retired vacationing couple who meet a pair of sea lizards at the beach. The Lady from Dubuque (1979) is a fable in which the title character is none other than death. Death, in fact, has been a running character throughout his works. In spite of the wide range in styles and subject matter, Albee has said that all his plays "confront being alive and how to behave with the awareness of death. Every one of my plays is an act of optimism, because I make the assumption that it is possible to communicate with other people. The people who think Virginia Woolf was a love story are a lot closer to the truth than those who think it was a tragedy. At least there was communication in that marriage." And like George and Martha, whose long night's journey finally ends in day, Albee and his public have communicated with each other ever since they met through periods love and exhilaration, anger and neglect, truce and reconciliation. | What's on Stage | Exploring the Center | Learning Through the Arts | | NSO | Online Events | Around the Nation | Producing New Work | References 1. http://kennedy center.org/explore/honors/html/maindoc.html 2. http://kennedy center.org/stage/html/stage.html 3. http://kennedy center.org/explore/html/explore.html 4. http://kennedy center.org/learn/html/learning.html 5. http://kennedy center.org/nso/html/nsohome.html 6. http://kennedy center.org/events/html/events.html 7. http://kennedy center.org/around/html/around.html 8. http://kennedy center.org/newwork/html/newwork.html
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