Tag Archives: Edward Albee


“I don’t know of any playwright more intuitive, more reliant on taking stuff from the unconscious, and letting that create form.” — Edward Albee on María Irene Fornés

Playwright, director, and educator María Irene Fornés will be celebrated this month with the screening of Michelle Memran’s documentary THE REST I MAKE UP at the Museum of Modern Art, and a twelve-hour marathon of readings from Fornés’ plays at the Public Theater.

“Writing plays is not a way of earning a living but earning a life… Learning how to become intimate with your own imagination is more important than finishing a piece.” — María Irene Fornés

Fornés—one of the most influential writing teachers of contemporary theater, and an advocate of an oblique approach to the blank page—prepared her students by immersing them in voice and movement workshops. She was, in the words of playwright Brooke Berman, a former assistant, “someone who had spent her whole life devoted to capturing the truth of a moment in theatrical space.”

THE REST I MAKE UP features extensive footage of Fornés in Greenwich Village and Havana and Miami—dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease—as well as interviews with friends, family, ex-lovers, and colleagues—Ellen Stewart, John Guare, Constance Congdon, Migdalia Cruz and many more.

“Her work has no precedents, it isn’t derived from anything. She’s the most original of us all.” — Lanford Wilson on Fornés




Thursday, Saturday, and Tuesday,

August 23, 25, and 28, at 7 pm.

Friday, Monday, and Wednesday,

August 24, 27, and 29, at 4:30 pm.

Sunday, August 26, at 1:30 pm.

Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53rd Street, New York City.



Monday, August 27, from noon to midnight.

Public Theater

425 Lafayette Street, New York City.

María Irene Fornés died in October 2018.

Top: Mary Jo Pearson and John O’Keefe in Mud, by María Irene Fornés, at Theater for the New City in 1983.

Above: Scene from The Danube, by Fornés, at American Place Theater in 1984. Stage photographs by Anne Militello.

Below: Fornés (left) with “the love of my life” Susan Sontag.



The cast of Broadway’s THE BOYS IN THE BAND – Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins – is hosting a special late-night performance of Edward Albee’s THREE TALL WOMEN (starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, and Alison Pill) to benefit The Actors Fund.


THREE TALL WOMEN, Thursday, May 17, at 11:45 pm.

Regular engagement through June 24.

GOLDEN THEATRE, 252 West 45th Street, New York City.



THE BOYS IN THE BAND, through August 11.

BOOTH THEATRE, 222 West 45th Street, New York City.


See: nytimes.com/gay-theater-history-boys-in-the-band

Alison Pill (left), Glenda Jackson, and Laurie Metcalf in Three Tall Women. Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe.

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“Shame is an important and beautiful tool… The problem for me is that so many writers write without shame.” – Édouard Louis*

Playwright Joshua Harmon – a comic obsessive well versed in mortification – is the moody love child of Mart Crowley and Edward Albee, and if Bad Jews (at the Geffen Playhouse three summers ago) is Harmon’s Virginia Woolf, then SIGNIFICANT OTHER is his empathetic, mixed-gender Boys in the Band.

“He’s writing about himself,” a theatergoer next to me said after the SIGNIFICANT OTHER curtain call this weekend. Indeed, with his new play, Harmon takes a scalpel to Jordan – the author’s stand-in – and his circle of friends with granular precision. The brilliantly staged and performed production at the Geffen plays for three more weeks.

Jordan is unhappily single, slightly schlumpy, and morbidly fearful of ending up alone. (Will Von Vogt is a much better fit for the role than his Broadway predecessor Gideon Glick, who is trim and would have no trouble attracting suitors.) Transfixed by the physical beauty of a new co-worker, Will (John Garet Stoker), Jordan holds forth on this and other matters with his three best friends: Kiki (Keilly McQuail, a Rhonda Lieberman monologue come to life), Vanessa (a slightly less snarky book editor played by Vella Lovell), and sensible, grounded Laura (Melanie Field).

One by one Jordan’s chosen family abandons him as each of the women finds a partner and plans a wedding, and Jordan is consigned to the role of “Constant Reader,” the unattached gay man who reads a poem or literary passage at the ceremony. Things reach a second-act breaking point during a party leading up to Laura’s marriage. Jordan, in an eviscerating monologue, can’t fathom how his formerly edgy crew would debase themselves in pursuit of all the capitalistic pleasures (like out-of-town wedding parties) he actually longs to share with a love of his own, if only he could find him.

Jordan’s (and Harmon’s) attack on bourgeois excess speaks to the psychosis of the modern marketplace and its endless treadmill of desire and dissatisfaction. The closet door of Crowley and Albee’s time has been blown off its frame, but the generation that followed – looking, longing, drowning in a sea of “freedom” – has yet to find its way.



GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood, Los Angeles.


*Édouard Louis and Zadie Smith in conversation: documentjournal.com/edouard-louis-zadie-smith

Above: Will Von Vogt and Melanie Field in Significant OtherGeffen Playhouse, April 2018.

Bottom: Keilly McQuail, Von Vogt, Field, and Vella Lovell.

Photographs by Chris Whitaker.

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As a playwright, you know you’re doing something right when the production of your work triggers angry theatergoers in Orange County to cancel their subscriptions. That’s what happened to Nicky Silver around 1995, when South Coast Rep offered the one-two punch of Silver’s Pterodactyls and Raised In Captivity. Silver—a pitchblack successor to Edward Albee—has a formula: family nightmares, destructive parents, gay son protagonist/antagonist, put-upon affiliate siblings.

In Silver’s THE LYONS, now onstage at The Road Theatre–Lankershim in North Hollywood, dad is dying in the hospital, and mom is asking him for advice on how to redecorate their living room, “even though I know you won’t live to see it.” Their estranged son takes self-destructive self-delusion to new depths, their daughter’s reaction to the first sign of stress is “I need to call my sponsor” . . . and the clock starts ticking. Saying anything more would be unfair.

The plays of Nicky Silver are rarely produced in Los Angeles, and any opportunity to see the work of this comic genius should be taken advantage of.


THE LYONS, through July 1.

THE ROAD THEATRE—LANKERSHIM, 5108 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood


Nicky Silver.

Playwright Nicky Silver Image credit: Alchetron

Playwright Nicky Silver
Image credit: Alchetron


“I suddenly was able to breathe….I knew when I wrote THE ZOO STORY [in 1958] that this was invention, this was creativity. This wasn’t a ‘what if,’ taking ideas from other people.” — Edward Albee*

THE ZOO STORY—a raw confrontation between two men, Jerry and Peter, in Central Park—set the theatrical world of fire at a point when its author was running out of options. The turning point for Albee had less to do with no longer “taking ideas from other people” than with sorting and mastering his influences—a paradox of artistic power: losing oneself (i.e., losing shame) to gain control.

Edward Albee (1928–2016) grew up in material comfort—Larchmont, Choate, Trinity College—but after his adoptive parents rejected his desire to be a playwright, he fled, at 19, to Greenwich Village. Coming into a modest trust fund a year later, he spent the next decade working odd jobs and taking in every play, dance performance, concert, and gallery show Manhattan had to offer, usually in the company of his boyfriend, composer William Flanagan, and their hard-drinking circle. At the end of the fifties, at a creative dead end, Albee went on the wagon and, months shy of his thirtieth birthday, wrote THE ZOO STORY in three weeks.

His one-act play “earned Mr. Albee instant acclaim as an American Beckett, attuned to the rage and daily despair beneath the surface of middle-class life,” and this was the stance he maintained throughout his career.** Albee’s was an art of corrosion. His work mocked in lacerating style the very audience that supported it, and the productions of his plays were central events in the cultural life of New York City in the second half of the twentieth century: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962; based, in part, on the alcohol-fueled fights between Albee and Flanagan***), Tiny Alice (1965), A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1975), Three Tall Women (1991), The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia? (2000).

In EDWARD ALBEE’S AT HOME AT THE ZOO—a Wallis and Deaf West Theatre co-production directed by Coy Middlebrook that combines ZOO and HOMELIFE (2004; a domestic prequel featuring middle-class Peter and his wife Ann, set just hours before ZOO‘s action)—Russell Harvard gives a breakthrough performance as Jerry, the eviscerating Fool, wide awake in a world of sleepwalkers. All three characters in the combined work perform their parts in American Sign Language, joined by three actors, stage right, who speak their parts. This sense of doubling and disconnection is a powerful complement to the plays’ themes of alienation and isolation.


Through March 26.

Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 pm.

Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm.

Sundays at 2 pm and 7 pm.

The Wallis

9390 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills.

(Jerry: Russell Harvard through March 15, Tyrone Giordano March 16–26.)

*Albee interview with author, in Mel Gussow, Edward Albee: A Singular Journey (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), 95.

**Jesse Green, “Edward Albee Returns to the Zoo,” New York Times, May 16, 2004.

***“Some of it obviously came from the arguments Bill and I used to have together.” Albee interview, in Gussow, 158.

The Wallis and Deaf West Theatre’s 2017 co-production of Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo. Photographs courtesy the artists and The Wallis.