CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: June 9, 2000
UI Iowa Summer Rep's Albee festival opens with 'Who's Afraid of Virginia
Woolf?' June 22
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," the most
famous play by three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee, will open Iowa
Summer Rep 2000's "Making Waves: An Edward Albee Festival" at 8
p.m. Thursday, June 22 in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.
Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. June 22-24; at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
June 25; at 8 p.m. June 27 and 28; at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. July 2; at 6 p.m.
July 4; and at 8 p.m. July 5, 6 and 9.
In the Tony Award-winning "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" George
and Martha are a tormented, hard-drinking academic couple who draw Nick and
Honey, a pair of bright newcomers, into the well-practiced game of harrowing
and wickedly funny verbal abuse that circles the barren core of their lives.
George and Martha's vitriolic bickering is clearly a familiar pattern, but
on this night it escalates into a no-holds-barred "total war" that
shatters the carefully constructed fantasy they have erected to shield themselves
"The dialogue in 'Virginia Woolf' -- probably some of the most brilliant
in the 20th century -- serves as a mask of protection for the characters'
lost hopes and dreams," says director Mary Beth Easley, a Summer Rep
veteran and a former faculty member of the UI department of theatre arts.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" provoked a storm of controversy
when it premiered in 1962. With a combination of lively wit and visceral drama,
Albee explosively articulated a growing cultural undercurrent that questioned
the traditional values of the "American Dream" -- marriage, family,
faith and material success.
In a play for the mainstream commercial theater, Albee employed crude language
and an intensity of confrontation considered shocking for the time, and he
addressed sexuality unflinchingly, leading some critics to dismiss his work
as "dirty-minded" and perverse, at the same time that he was being
hailed by others as a new dramatic genius.
The debate was epitomized by that year's Pulitzer Prize, when the committee
voted for Albee's play, but the trustees at Columbia University vetoed the
choice because the play's frank exploration of taboo subject matter was considered
too controversial. And the controversy was only exacerbated when screen icons
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor starred in the gritty 1966 Mike Nichols
film -- widely condemned then as scandalous, even with Taylor winning an Academy
Award, and now considered one of the major cinematic achievements of the 1960s.
Beginning in the late 1950s, Albee established a reputation for creating
dramatic tension while simultaneously voicing serious social criticism, uniting
the American realist tradition with the dark wit of European absurdist theater.
In addition to "A Delicate Balance" and "Seascape," he
won the Pulitzer Prize for "Three Tall Women" in 1994, and his three
Pulitzers rank second only to Eugene O'Neill's four. Tony Awards for Broadway
productions went not only to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" but
also to "A Delicate Balance."
In 1996, Albee received a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and
in 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
At the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 1996, Albee was praised for his
impact on American drama: "Edward Albee burst into the American theatrical
scene in the late 1950s with a variety of plays that detailed the agonies
and disillusionment of that decade and the transition from the placid Eisenhower
years to the turbulent 1960s. Albee's plays, with their intensity, their grappling
with modern themes, and their experiments in form, startled critics and audiences
alike while changing the landscape of American drama."
"To me, Edward Albee means power and wit combined in breathtaking ways,"
says UI department of theatre arts faculty member Eric Forsythe, artistic
director of Iowa Summer Rep. "He audaciously jumps into your living room
or into your beach party and shakes things up. I can't imagine a more exhilarating
For many seasons Iowa Summer Rep has pursued a unique focus in American
summer theater with its single-playwright, festivals, but last season Iowa
Summer Rep also became an Actor's Equity Company, elevating its status as
a professional theater company.
Tickets for the Iowa Summer Rep production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia
Woolf" are $17 ($13 for senior citizens, and $9 for students). Tickets
may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining
tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time
at the Theatre Building box office.
Tickets may be purchased at a substantial discount as part of an Iowa Summer
Rep subscription package. A $40 package ($31 for senior citizens and $22 for
students) also includes the Pulitzer Prize winners "A Delicate Balance,"
June 29-July 8, and "Seascape," July 11-23.
Hancher box office summer hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. From the
local calling area, dial 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER.
Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American
Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills,
and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information
and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should
dial 335-1158. This line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment
who use that technology.
Iowa Summer Rep ticketholders may complete their theatrical outing with
a choice of picnic-box dinners at Eddie's Landing, overlooking the Iowa River.
Reservations are required: Call 319-335-3105. Orders must be received before
5 p.m. one day in advance. Reservation forms are available at the Hancher
box office or the Department of Theatre Arts. Reservations may also be placed
on the World Wide Web at <www.imuis.uiowa.edu/food/sumrep>.
Picnics are available for 8 p.m. performances only, and will be available
for pick-up at 6 p.m.
For UI arts information, visit <www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr>. Learn more
about the play at: <http://www.rlc.dcccd.edu/WorldLang/English/mah8420/Albee-Woolf-Notes.htm#Author>.