Edward Albee

Edward Albee is considered the greatest living American playwright. He has written some of the greatest plays of the last fifty years, and some turds, too.

The dude himself.

Just The Facts

  1. Adopted as a baby, didn't get along with his wealthy adoptive parents, especially his mother, who appears in several of his plays in various forms.
  2. He wrote Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, his most significant contribution to American theater. If you haven't read it or seen it, you're officially uncultured.
  3. Somehow, we don't know how he does it, but he manages to write something about male genitalia in almost all of his plays.

Early Career: Pulitzer Prize Board Screws Up, Feels Sorry (1957-1966)

This was arguably Albee's most creative and vibrant period. He exploded onto the theater scene with The Zoo Story, a one-act play which has little to nothing to do with the zoo.

His first full-length,
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was about two couples who get very drunk. It was a Broadway sensation and his most successful play ever. Many thought that he should have won a Pulitzer Prize for it, but the Pulitzer board found the play offensive. Good thing stuff like The Book Of Mormon wasn't being written back then, or they would have crapped their pants (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has the f bomb three times).

Feeling a bit remorseful for not awarding him the Prize for what is clearly one of the best works of drama ever written, they gave him the Pulitzer for his 1966 play A Delicate Balance, which is about old people who get very drunk.

Middle Career: Weird Stuff Happens (1967-1989)

Albee's middle period was a straight-up disaster. He wrote approximately one good play (Seascape) over a span of twenty years. Seascape was about human-sized talking lizards. He won a Pulitzer for it, somehow.

The rest of his middle-period work was so poorly received that he might as well have written the word "fart" over and over. Less humorously, he was struggling with alcohol abuse at the time, which is why his work suffered... yeah. Seriously, he wrote a play about a talking box and called it Box. And this was on Broadway.

Later Career: Writes Play About Goat, Becomes Mailman (1990-present)

Luckily for Albee, his career picked up later in life, and he wrote some of his best work, including Three Tall Women, which won him his third Pulitzer, and The Goat: or, Who is Sylvia?, a play about a guy who does "it" with a goat. And yes, by "it" we mean... it.

Nowadays when he's not writing or thinking about goats, he supports other writers with the Edward Albee Foundation, an artists' colony near his home in Montauk, New York, where writers can stay and work, undisturbed, on their next book or play which will undoubtedly not be as famous as anything Edward Albee wrote. Rumor has it that Albee himself delivers the mail there.

Brief Synopses of Notable Albee Plays

The Zoo Story (1958): A guy is trying to read a book in Central Park, when another guy comes up and starts to relate this long, rambling story to him. In the end, it turns out this other guy might be dangerously crazy. So pretty much your average day in Central Park.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961): Two married couples get drunk and talk trash about each other for three hours.

Tiny Alice (1964): Literally nobody understands this play.

A Delicate Balance (1966): Some old married couple busts into another couple's home and demands to stay there forever. The next day they change their minds and leave.

Box (1968): A box sits on stage and speaks gibberish for twenty minutes. And this was on Broadway.

Seascape (1974): a middle-aged couple relaxes on the beach when two giant talking lizards come out of fracking nowhere.

Three Tall Women (1990): In one part of this play, an old woman tells a story about her late husband giving her a bracelet by putting it on his hardened manhood; the audience is made to feel extremely uncomfortable for several minutes. Even more disturbing is that it was based on a story Albee's mom told him. That is some messed up stuff.

The Goat: or, Who is Sylvia? (2002): A famous architect is revealed to have been cheating on his wife with someone named Sylvia. "Who is Sylvia?" his wife asks in tears. Albee makes a huge blunder and reveals it in the title of the play. Seriously, he should have put a spoiler warning in the title!