Edward Albee

Edward Albee

Past Event: Tuesday, October 30, 2001

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Edward Albee was born in 1928 in Washington D.C. He grew up in an affluent family, the adopted son of Reed and Frances Cotter Albee and grandson of famous vaudeville producer Edward Franklin Albee. At the age of twenty, Albee moved to New York, picking up odd jobs until his success with The Zoo Story in 1959.

Since then, critics have hailed Albee as an extraordinary playwright, securing his reputation within the ranks of renowned American playwrights Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neill. Stylistically, he has been more closely associated with European dramatists Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, who, like Albee, use dramatic form and style to express the chaos and absurdity of the human condition. Upon receiving a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, Albee was praised for “changing the landscape of American drama.”

Albee’s most influential work is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It was first produced on Broadway in 1962 and was later made into a film directed by Mike Nichols, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; it is one of the most frequently performed contemporary plays in American theater. At the time it was produced, theater critic Richard Watts called it a “shattering” drama and contended that Albee could be placed “high among important dramatists of contemporary world theater.” In the play, Albee’s brilliant use of colloquial language uncovers the fury and decay brewing between the two protagonists. “A play should bring its audience some special sense of awareness of the times,” Albee explained. “[it should] alter and shape that awareness in some significant manner.”

The protagonist for his 1994 play Three Tall Women was inspired by Albee’s adoptive mother. Although Albee’s relationship with his mother was rocky—she adamantly opposed his homosexuality and disinherited him from her will—he wrote the play because he wanted to create a fictional character “who resembled in every way, in every event, someone I had known very, very well . . . I recall being very interested in what I was doing—fascinated by the horror and sadness I was (re)creating.” In a review of the play, the New York Times wrote, “Her presence reinforces what has always been implicit in the playwright’s works: life must be defined by the inescapable proximity of death.”

Albee’s play, The Play About the Baby, ran on Broadway in early 2001. Currently, Albee teaches playwrighting and creative writing at the University of Houston.

Excerpt from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962)
GEORGE(Returning with HONEY and NICK’S drinks)At any rate, back when I was courting Martha, she’d order the damnedest things! You wouldn’t believe it! We’d go into a bar . . . you know, a bar . . . a whiskey, beer, and bourbon bar . . . and what she’d do would be, she’d screw up her face, think real hard, and come up with . . . brandy Alexanders, creme de cacao frappes, gimlets, flaming punch bowls . . . seven-layer liqueur things.MARTHAThey were good . . . I liked them.GEORGEReal lady-like little drinkies.MARTHAHey, where’s my rubbing alcohol?GEORGE(Returning to the portable bar)But the years have brought to Martha a sense of essentials . . . the knowledge that cream is for coffee, lime juice for pies . . . and alcohol (Brings MARTHA her drink) pure and simple . . . here you are, angel . . . for the pure and simple. (Raises his glass) For the mind’s blind eye, the heart’s ease, and the liver’s craw. Down the hatch, all.MARTHA (To them all)Cheers, dears. (They all drink) You have a poetic nature, George . . . a Dylan Thomas-y quality that gets me right where I live.GEORGEVulgar girl! With guests here.MARTHAHa, ha ha, HA! (To HONEY and NICK) Hey; hey!(Sings, conducts with her drink in her hand. HONEY joins in toward the end)Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf,Virginia Woolf,Virginia Woolf,Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf. . . .(MARTHA and HONEY laugh; NICK smiles)HONEYOh, wasn’t that funny? That was so funny. . . .NICK (Snapping to)Yes . . . yes, it was.

Selected WorkFragments (1993) Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize)Marriage Play (1987)Finding the Sun (1982-83)The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981-82)Another Part of the Zoo (1981)The Lady From Dubuque (1977-78)Counting the Ways (l976)Listening (1975)Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize)All Over (1971)Box and Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (1968)A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize)Tiny Alice (1964)Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, Tony Award)The American Dream (1960)The Death of Bessie Smith (1959)Fam and Yam (1959)The Sandbox (l959)The Zoo Story (1958)

LinksEdward Albee biographyArtists Repertory Theatre biographyEdward Albee general siteNew York Times Albee page with linked articles

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

Parking
The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.

Accessibility

All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at sal@lectures.org or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.