American Playwright Edward Albee dies aged 88

Renowned American dramatist dies. 

Edward Albee

American dramatist Edward Albee has died at the age of 88 following a short illness. The news was confirmed by his personal assistant Jakob Holder early this morning, 16 September 2016, at his home in Montauk, New York. 

The Pulitzer Prize, Tony and Drama Desk award-winning writer was widely considered one of the foremost American dramatists of his generation and is best remembered for his hard-hitting plays such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and A Delicate Balance, all of which have been performed numerous times in the West End and on Broadway. 

Albee's works are known for being realistic examinations of the contemporary human condition and have blended together different elements of drama from the Theatre of the Absurd to European influences such as Beckett, Genet and Ionesco. His hard-hitting dramas have been regarded as some of the most demanding in the modern American drama canon and have continued to push both performers and audiences around the world. 

His first play The Zoo Story premiered in Berlin in 1959 alongside Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, later transferring to New York at the off-Broadway Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village. In 1962 he made his Broadway debut with his seminal classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? that took home the Tony Award for Best Play, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but was not allowed to win the award due to the regulating committee's concern over its themes and language. 

The play ran for over 18 months on Broadway and went on to be adapted into a film in 1966 directed by Mike Nichols starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. 

He went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama three times for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994) and returned to Broadway in the 2001/2 season with The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? which took home the 2002 Tony Award for Best Play despite not winning over many of the critics. He won a further Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005. 

Despite his multiple successes he is known for having a number of flops, including the ill-fated musical adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's which he wrote alongside Bob Merrill. The show never opened officially on Broadway, and was closed by producer David Merrick after only four previews. His play adaptation of Nabokov's Lolita also closed quickly on Broadway after only 12 performances in 1981. 

His most successful plays have been revived multiple times, with recent Broadway productions of A Delicate Balance starring Glen Close and John Lithgow introducing them to new audiences. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has been revived three times on Broadway, and is rumoured to be revived in London's West End in 2017 starring Imelda Staunton. 

Openly gay, Albee didn't want to be known as a gay writer, saying "I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay". His long-time partner Jonathan Thomas died from cancer in 2005. 

Albee was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972 and in 1985 was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. He received the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980 and a Kennedy Center Honor in 1996.

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