Saturday, September 17, 2016

Time Passes: Edward Albee, 1928-2016

Edward Albee: March 12, 1928 to September 16, 2016.
Edward Albee often wrote about regret and things not accomplished, far from the most accurate description of his life.  He had early career as a playwright ("The Zoo Story", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", et al) and had a long wait until his later successes (Three Tall Women", "The Goat"), but the breadth of his career made him a literary giant of the 20th century.

Albee's main purpose in writing was to disturb the comfortable, to take people to places and subjects that existed but were taboo in "polite company", to challenge people's unwillingness to talk about dark topics.  Silence doesn't end their existence, it only hides them, and Albee was determined to challenge society into having that conversation, willing or not.

Albee's own life would have made for a play unto itself: adopted but unloved, knew he was gay at a very young age (during the Great Depression) and at a time it was still criminalized in the US.  He grew up witnessing bigotry, racism, hypocrisy in society and made them the subjects of his work.  He tried his hand as novels and poetry, failing at both, then eventually turning his pen to plays.  One of his first attempts, "The Zoo Story", was an instant success allowing him to experiment and challenge audiences with ever more brazen writing and topics.

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