Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was first performed in 1962 at the Billy Rose Theatre, New York, as America was emerging from the cozy Eisenhower years and when the Cold War seemed at its most threatening.
One of modern drama’s classics, Edward Albee’s Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? touches on themes of illusion versus truth, the absurd, power, the human condition, dissatisfaction as well as drugs and alcohol. The play provides an insight into American domestic and social dysfunction of that period yet its literary and historical allusions retain a universal resonance.
Albee was influenced by the European Absurdists such as Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco. These playwrights viewed the human existence as having no discernible, cohesive purpose.
Among the awards for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Tony Award for Best Play and the Variety Drama Critics’ Poll Award. The Pulitzer Prize committee voted Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woof? Best Play in 1963 but the board, which has sole discretion in awarding the prize, rejected the recommendation, because it did not portray a "wholesome" view of American life. Half of the Pulitzer board panel resigned in protest and no award for drama was given that year.
Albee went on to win three Pulitzers and was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.
Photo Credit : University of Houston
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