Edward Albee, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ Playwright, Has Died at 88

Edward Albee, one of the greatest American playwrights who wrote The Zoo Story, The Sandbox, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, has died at 88. From the New York Times:

He introduced himself suddenly and with a bang, in 1959, when his first produced play, The Zoo Story, opened in Berlin on a double bill with Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. A two-handed one-act that unfolds in real time, The Zoo Story zeroed in on the existential terror at the heart of Eisenhower-era complacency, presenting the increasingly menacing intrusion of a probing, querying stranger on a man reading on a Central Park bench.

When the play came to the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village the next year, it helped propel the burgeoning theater movement that became known as Off Broadway.

In 1962, Mr. Albee’s Broadway debut, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the famously scabrous portrait of a withered marriage, won a Tony Award for best play, ran for more than a year and half and enthralled and shocked theatergoers with its depiction of stifling academia and of a couple whose relationship has been corroded by dashed hopes, wounding recriminations and drink.

The 1966 film adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, turned the play into Mr. Albee’s most famous work; it had, he wrote three decades later, ‘hung about my neck like a shining medal of some sort — really nice but a trifle onerous.’

Read some of Albee’s best lines, and revisit an examination of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (which turned 50 this year).