Edward Albee, the seminal American playwright and three-time Pulitzer winner who is generally considered the greatest playwright of the latter half of the twentieth century, died yesterday afternoon at his home in Montauk, New York. He was 88.
Albee won Pulitzer prizes for A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Two Tall Women. His most famous play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (to be performed later this season at Ford’s) was selected for the award by the award’s drama jury, but overruled by the award’s advisory committee, which elected to give no award.
Albee was born in Virginia — thought by many near (or perhaps in) Washington — and adopted by Reed A. Albee, the son of vaudeville magnate Edward Franklin Albee II. Edward Albee attended Trinity College, but was expelled for skipping classes and refusing to attend chapel.
“I never felt comfortable with the adoptive parents,” Albee was quoted as saying. “I don’t think they knew how to be parents. I probably didn’t know how to be a son, either.” He later told interviewer Charlie Rose that he was “thrown out” because his parents wanted him to become a “corporate thug”. Albee said his adoptive parents did not support his ambitions to be a writer.
In this interview with DCTS, conducted seven years ago, Albee talked about his writing process, the importance of young people in the theater, Arena’s production of A Delicate Balance, two plays he was thinking about (and regrettably never put to paper) and his tennis game. He was 81 at the time.
In addition to his Pulitzers, Albee was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1972), a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame (since 1985), the 1999 winner of the PEN/Lauren Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, and received a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement (2005), the Gold Medal for Drama from the American Academy and Institute for Arts and Letters (1980), the National Medal for Arts (1996), and the Kennedy Center Honors (1996).
Albee’s partner, Jonathan Thomas, died in 2005.