Friday, August 22, 2008

Play of the Week: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

When Edward Albee's play premiered in 1962 it was considered indecent. No Pulitzer Price was awarded the following year year for although Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was undoubtedly the best play, the strong language and sexual content was not something the Pulitzer Prize chose to condone. Nevertheless, the play won the Tony Award and opened the door to a new kind of theatre. Many of today's plays would not be possible in a pre-"Virginia Woolf" world.

In 2004-05 Albee reworked some of the script for a Broadway revival. This production co-starred Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin and played to great acclaim - Irwin won a Tony Award for his performance. I had the pleasure of seeing this production on tour in Chicago in February 2007 and it is one of the highlights of my play-going career.

I'd like us to take a moment with this familiar classic and think about how this play changed American theatre. Many of the changes would have occurred with or without this play, but the radical footprint it made is something that we should take stock of. Take the time to enjoy one of the last weekends of the summer by pulling this play off of your shelf and taking it on a walk with you in the park. If you have the opportunity, find a copy of the revised edition and see how the subtle differences change the meaning of the play.

Happy Birthday: James Kirkwood Jr. (1925-1989) and Colm Feore and on August 23 Gene Kelly (1912-1996)

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