Friday, September 16, 2016

Edward Albee

One of America's greatest playwrights -- via Playbill. I wanted to write just like him. Now, I do write, just like myself, not him.

He came along at just the right time for me. The holy trinity, the playwrights I sought to emulate, were O'Neill, Miller, and Williams. Along came Albee, who gave birth to serious, then experimental, work Off-Broadway with "The Zoo Story." Normally my parents would summarize the movie to me when they got home; "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was the first one they declined to indulge anything about. (Finally snagged the original cast album on vinyl -- Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Melinda Dillon, George Grizzard -- played it over and over.)

He refused to be categorized and kept taking chances. (Remember "Box-Mao"?) His career "lapsed" and was then "reborn" several times, in the eyes of critics ho track artistic progress like that of pugilists, imagining every writer a pocket Papa Hemingway. He paid attention to his craft and he worked and he made more good theater. "A Delicate Balance," "Three Tall Women," "The Goat," and many more.

Met him once -- despite his look of a scruffy, lean Western gunfighter, he was extremely intelligent and crisp, yet somehow coy as well. He looked at us students and said, "Well, first of all, if you're really serious about writing, you should get out of here right now and go do it. If you stick around, we can talk about it, though." He was rigorous and honest. He could write brutal lines, but they work because they are true. It's probably more difficult to write an enduring play than anything else. Albee could do it.