Thursday, October 23, 2008

A is for Albee and Adoption

In order to facilitate an exhaustive weekly theme with no clear sight of a terminal, I have decided to designate every Friday as "Alphabet Day." Yes, I am fully aware it sounds lame. But facility is everything; it's even more than creativity. I will go through alphabet from A to Z, and will blog on something, anything beginning with that letter (see how broad it is).With this theme I can go through the alphabet repeatedly, and with 26 letters in the alphabet and 52 weeks in a year, I will make it through the alphabet in exactly twice in one year. So here's A:

A is for Albee. Edward Albee, the author of the highly successful, very influential play after which this blog is named: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He was one of the most prolific playwrights of the latter half of the twentieth century, having penned over 30 plays in almost 50 years, many of which are now considered classics. In 1966 Albee's most (in)famous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was adapted to film by the great Mike Nichols; along with the shocking vulgarity (for its time) the popular appeal of the stage production was imported to screen, and incredibly all four of the movie's principle actors and actresses were nominated for Academy Awards, two of whom won: Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis.

Digression: Sandy Dennis, 'that mousy type', is worth seeing in this movie: there is a scene near the beginning of the film where she reacts to a shotgun pointed in her general direction. She exhibits, in less than a few seconds, the two extremes of human emotion: her hysterical laughter (ecstasy) becomes utter terror (agony). It's like seeing the personified version of the Greek masks for comedy and drama. Its my favorite moment in the movie.

SPOILER! (read no further if you plan on ever reading the play and/or seeing the play and/or movie). A is for adoption. Albee was adopted, and like most adopted kids (and non-adopted for that matter) he had issues. The big secret, the big punchline of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is that the couple played by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor hate, loathe, and despise one another because they are unable to have children, and for some reason this has lead to mental breakdown in the case of the wife, and a cold, uncaring, steel heart in the case of the husband. They, possibly, should have adopted to stave off the disintegration of their marriage as a result of its inability to reach the desired end of becoming a mother and father.

A is for Albee and Adoption, because Albee himself was adopted, and seems to have exorcised his demons from himself in writing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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