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If you like Edward Albee's story, you might also like:
Sally Field,
Athol Fugard,
Ernest J. Gaines,
Jeremy Irons,
James Earl Jones,
Trevor Nunn,
Harold Prince,
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and Wole Soyinka

Edward Albee can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Related Links:
Albee Foundation
Kennedy Center
Albee on Broadway

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Edward Albee
Edward Albee
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Edward Albee Interview (page: 4 / 6)

Three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama

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  Edward Albee

How do you see the writer's place in society?

Edward Albee: Peripheral! Tolerated, perhaps.

Writing should be useful. If it can't instruct people a little bit more about the responsibilities of consciousness, there's no point in doing it. But, we all write because we don't like what we see, and we want people to be better and different. Sure, that's why we do it.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

So there is a purpose?

Edward Albee: Of course. There's a purpose to everything -- except the Republican Party, perhaps -- except possibly to teach us fear and loathing.

In any career, there are setbacks, there are disappointments. How have you dealt with that?

Edward Albee: I think you've got to assume that nobody promised you a rose garden. Sometimes it's going to be okay, and sometimes it's going to be tough. But, if you haven't got a sufficient sense of self to surmount either failure or success, you're in trouble. I know that some of my plays that have been least popular are some of the best ones. They'll figure it out eventually. I've never lacked self confidence in my talent as a writer. This sounds wrong. It sounds terrible, but it's true. I've never had doubts about my ability as a writer.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

Have you ever suffered from self-doubt or fear of failure?

Edward Albee: No. No. No. But now that I'm getting very old there's the possibility that my mind is going.

Do you know that wonderful story about Bernard Shaw? That when he got into his 90s -- I hope it's true -- he was reading one of his earlier plays one day, and he was having trouble understanding it. So, he rewrote it and simplified it so he could understand it. They had to take his work away from him because he was doing that. [Laughter] It might have helped some of them.

You don't anticipate doing that yourself.

Edward Albee Interview Photo
Edward Albee: Oh God, I hope not! I hope they'll take them away from me if I do that.

No matter what the field, you can't please all the people all the time, especially when you're subjected to reviews and criticism. How do you handle that?

Edward Albee: Why should one be interested in doing that? Every play has its own density, its own specific gravity. Some plays are simple, some plays are more complex. Some are experimental, some are naturalistic. If you're trying to please everybody all the time, you're bound to fail.

So you have to have the courage of your convictions?

Edward Albee: You have to write the play that's in your head, and make the assumption that your talent hasn't collapsed, and that if people will pay attention, they might learn something.

Are you a risk taker? Is it important to take risks as a playwright?

I don't get up every morning and say, "Now, can I find some risks I have to take?" No. But, I don't think I've compromised either. I don't think I've ever said to myself, "Gee, this is going to be an unpopular subject. Maybe I'd better not write it." Or, "Gee, maybe I'd better simplify here." No. Nor do I do the reverse -- try to make myself look better by making them more complicated. No. You write what's in your head.

Which part of the process is more important for you, the initial writing or rewriting?

Edward Albee: I don't rewrite. Well, not much. I think I probably do all the rewriting that I'm going to do before I'm aware that I'm writing the play because obviously, the creativity resists -- resides -- in the unconscious, right? Probably resists the unconscious, too -- resides in the unconscious. My plays, I think, are pretty much determined before I become aware of them. I think they formulated there, and then they move into the conscious mind, and then onto the page. By the time I'm willing to commit a play to paper, I pretty much know -- or can trust -- the characters to write the play for me. So, I don't impose. I let them have their heads and say and do what they want, and it turns out to be a play.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

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This page last revised on Apr 11, 2008 15:25 EDT
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