‘Vir­ginia Woolf’ play­wright Al­bee dies at 88

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

NEW YORK >> Three-time Pulitzer Prize-win­ning play­wright Ed­ward Al­bee, who chal­lenged the­atri­cal con­ven­tion in mas­ter­works such as “Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf?” and “A Del­i­cate Bal­ance,” died Fri­day, his per­sonal as­sis­tant said. He was 88.

He died at his home in Mon­tauk, east of New York, as­sis­tant Jackob Holder said. No cause of death was im­me­di­ately given, although he had suf­fered from di­a­betes. With the deaths of Arthur Miller and Au­gust Wil­son in 2005, he was ar­guably America’s great­est liv­ing play­wright.

Sev­eral years ago, be­fore un­der­go­ing ex­ten­sive surgery, Al­bee penned a note to be is­sued 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.”

Al­bee was pro­claimed the play­wright of his gen­er­a­tion after his blis­ter­ing “Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf?” opened on Broad­way in 1962. The Tony-win­ning play, still widely con­sid­ered Al­bee’s finest, was made into an award­win­ning 1966 film star­ring El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor and Richard Bur­ton.

The play’s sharp-tongued hu­mor and dark themes were the hall­marks of Al­bee’s style. In more than 30 plays, Al­bee skew­ered such main­stays of Amer­i­can cul­ture as mar­riage, child-rear­ing, re­li­gion and up­per-class com­forts.

“If you have no wounds, how can you know you’re alive?” a char­ac­ter asks in Al­bee’s 1996 “The Play About the Baby.”

“It’s just a quirk of the brain that makes one a play­wright,” Al­bee said in 2008. “I have the same ex­pe­ri­ences that every­body else does, but... I feel the need to trans­late a lot of what hap­pens to me, a lot of what I think, into a play.”

Ed­ward Al­bee

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