Edward Albee: A Casebook

Edward Albee: A Casebook

Edward Albee: A Casebook

Edward Albee: A Casebook


From the "angry young man" who wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1962, determined to expose the emptiness of American experience to Tiny Alice which reveals his indebtedness to Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco's Theatre of the Absurd, Edward Albee's varied work makes it difficult to label him precisely. Bruce Mann and his contributors approach Albee as an innovator in theatrical form, filling a critical gap in theatrical scholarship.


Bruce J. Mann

This has been a good time for Edward Albee. At long last, he is receiving the recognition he deserves for his many contributions to the American theater. During the past decade, he has collected his third Pulitzer Prize for Three Tall Women, and important revivals have been mounted in New York and London of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance. in 1996, Kennedy Center honors were conferred upon Albee. Three years later, Mel Gussow's biography of the playwright was published, and in 2002, Albee won the Tony Award for Best Play for The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Through it all, Albee has not missed a step, continuing to teach, direct, and write new plays.

After more than a decade of critical neglect, Albee returned to the spotlight with the stunning success of Three Tall Women in 1994. This play about his adoptive mother opened our eyes again to Albee's inimitable virtues: his vaunted wit, his mix of darkness and light (like Rachmaninoff and Satie), his innovative use of dramatic space, his focus on the American family and its ills, his brilliant use of language (from the gentle to the vitriolic), and his fearless search for meaning. Watching the award-winning New York production, directed by Lawrence Sacharow, I realized that Three Tall Women, with its autobiographical revelations, was a summing-up of sorts, a play that cast new light on all of Albee's other plays. It made me return to them to reexamine their dramatic worlds.

This casebook grows out of the Albee revival and the need to reconsider his achievement, which is significant. According to his biographer, Mel Gussow, Albee "has written at least four major plays (The Zoo Story, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a Delicate Balance, and Three Tall Women), others (Tiny Alice, Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, All Over, Seascape, and The Lady from Dubuque) that demand a second look, and one-acts that remain models of their kind" (17). This casebook offers new essays

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