During our playwright sessions last term, we focused on British playwrights, for this term, we will be focusing more on American playwrights. The purpose of this session is to learn about Edward Albee and look at one of his plays, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, with the aim to read through some of the play and act sections out in groups.
Edward Albee was born on 12th March 1928 and died 16th September 2016 (1), although he was born as a Harvey, he was adopted when he was only 18 days old by Reed and Francis Albee (2). However, relations with his adoptive parents were strained after being expelled from two private schools and despite wishing to peruse a career in the arts, they had other ideas (3).
The play we looked at today, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ was written in 1962, other plays written by Albee include:
- The Zoo Story (1959)
- The American Dream (1961)
- Tiny Alice (1964)
- All Over (1971)
- Seascape (1975)
- The Man Who Had Three Arms (1982)
- Marriage Play (1987)
- Three Tall Women (1991)
- The Play About the Baby (1998)
- The Goat. or Who is Silvia? (2000)
- Me Myself and I (2007) (4)
There are three acts to ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?’ which are named:
- Fun and Games
- The Exorcism
The play has four characters, two married coupled called Martha, George, Honey and Nick. It is clear that Martha and George do not get on and invite Honey and Nick round for drinks, Martha and George have an imaginary child as Martha is infertile, but they agree not to tell anyone about it.
I was put in a group with Lou, Hannah and James to block a section of Act 2, I played Honey. We only had 10 minutes to block though the scene before we performed it, here is the video of all the performances:
I learned about play acts having names, like chapters in a book which I have not seen before, I found this helpful as we were all able to get an idea on what the chapter was going to be about, for example, ‘The Exorcism’, had a clue about George and Martha killing off their imaginary baby – Which also had a sinister undertone to it.
Overall I believe our group worked well in the time we had and the piece flowed really well, it also broadened my understanding of the piece and the characters. I also realised that we do not recognise the death of playwrights as much as we do celebrities considering Albee only died last year.
I feel I have achieved the aims of this lesson and will search up more of Albee’s works and techniques in order to improve my work in the future.