The Broadway community mourns the loss of three-time Tony Award® and three-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, producer, and director, Edward Albee, who passed away on September 16th at age 88. He was one of the foremost playwrights of his generation. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his honor on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at exactly 7:45pm for one minute.
Edward Albee Photo: Barry Gordin
“Edward Albee was one of our most influential and most honored American playwrights and a master of words, with nearly 30 plays on Broadway. The outpouring of accolades and personal memories being shared since his death are a tribute to a dramatist who deeply affected audiences and inspired so many fellow writers with his brilliant dialogue and indelible characters. An original voice, Albee created some of the most complex and compelling works presented on stage in the past six decades. In recent years Broadway audiences have been fortunate to see new expressions of his work through notable revivals of his most treasured dramas. Albee will be missed by those who knew him and all who were influenced by him; but his iconic works will continue to challenge and entertain audiences whenever they are presented on Broadway and beyond,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.
He was best known for his first full-length play and Broadway debut in 1962 with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a Tony Award® -winning production (1963) which also became a 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Albee received Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize by the award’s drama jury, but was overruled by the advisory committee, which elected not to give a drama award at all. The jury subsequently resigned in protest.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is considered a modern theatre classic. Various award-winning Broadway revivals have been staged including a 1976 production starring Colleen Dewhurst and Ben Gazarra; a 2005 production starring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin; and a 2012 production starring Amy Morton and Tracy Letts. In addition to the Tony Award for Best Play for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1963), he received the Tony Award for Best Play for The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (2002) and was the recipient of a Special Tony Award® Tony Lifetime Achievement Award (2005.)
Beyond his three Tony Awards including one for lifetime achievement, and six Tony nominations, he won three Pulitzer Prizes and was nominated for two others. Albee is the recipient of many distinguished honors for his work including being the recipient of Kennedy Honors and the National Medal of the Arts, both in 1996.
Over five decades, Albee wrote more than two dozen other plays, many of which were produced on Broadway including Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966), All Over (1971), Seascape (1975), and more. His adaptations of other authors’ work include The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1963), based on a Carson McCullers’ novella; Malcolm (1965), based on a James Purdy novel; and Lolita (1981), based on the Vladimir Nabokov classic. Stretching My Mind, a collection of his essays, was published in 2005.
In 1967, the playwright established the Edward F. Albee Foundation, which allows writers and visual artists to have a retreat in Montauk on Long Island in New York. The foundation maintains the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center (better known as “The Barn”) as a residence for writers and visual artists. The foundation’s mission is to serve writers and visual artists from all walks of life, by providing time and space in which to work without disturbance. The only criteria for selection are talent and need, and the foundation invites any and all artists to apply.
A few years ago, before undergoing major surgery, Albee penned a short statement to be published at the time of his death: “To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love,” he wrote.
Albee’s longtime partner, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, died in 2005.
His full Broadway biography can be found on the Internet Broadway Database: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/edward-albee-5258