Thursday, January 17, 2008


Originally Posted by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, Artistic Intern, September 13, 2007

While Iphigenia 2.0 continues playing to packed houses and emphatic reviews, Signature Theatre Company has been busy exploring New York City. On September 10th, we joined the River to River Festival to present Fun and Games with Edward Albee, a screening of Mike Nichols's Oscar-winning debut film - the 1967 screen adaptation ofWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as filtered through the lens of an intimate conversation between Jim Houghton and the master playwright himself.

Mr. Albee recounted aspects of an extraordinary stage-to-screen process in which famed screenwriter Ernest Lehman (the film's producer) hired himself to write the screenplay containing only two deviations from the original play. Mr. Albee said with understatement that he "preferred' a rough cut of the film sans music, declaring that the score created by Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire) was chiefly responsible for turning the danger of the play into a saccharine melodrama. He also fondly praised the performance of Liz Taylor, despite his initial fear that she was simply too young to play the part (Ms. Taylor was 33 at the time she was cast in the film, and clearly not the "large, boisterous woman, 52 ... ample, but not fleshy" character described in the original play).

One of the more revealing moments of the night occurred when interviewer and interviewee joked about how much time they were taking to talk. Mr. Albee made a present of his watch (which he declared was not something he would miss) to Mr. Houghton. Beneath the casual banter and wry comebacks is evidence of an inimitable bond between two people who have found a creative home in each other. This is a clear manifestation of the personal nature of the connections between the artists who form Signature Theatre.

The five hundred or so attendees of the free event made it to a packed Pace University auditorium despite a last-minute location change due to the inclement weather. Mr. Albee clearly relished the opportunity to interact with such a young and passionate crowd, speaking to the auditorium with great candor and informal ease. The success of the event is proof of his enduring popularity, and prophesies a banner year for "America's greatest living playwright."

No comments: