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Release: Feb. 18, 2000

Iowa Summer Rep 2000 season to feature playwright Edward Albee

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Edward Albee, three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, has been selected as the featured playwright of the 2000 season by Iowa Summer Rep, the professional company of the University of Iowa department of theatre arts. Each season Iowa Summer Rep presents a festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright.

The 2000 Iowa Summer Rep season, June 21 through July 23 in the UI Theatre Building, will feature Albee's most famous play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" as well as two of his Pulitzer Prize winners, "A Delicate Balance" and "Seascape."

"To me, Edward Albee means power and wit combined in breathtaking ways," says UI department of theatre arts faculty member Eric Forsythe, artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep. "He audaciously jumps into your living room or into your beach party and shakes things up. I can't imagine a more exhilarating roller-coaster ride!"

Beginning in the late 1950s, Albee established a reputation for creating dramatic tension while simultaneously voicing serious social criticism, becoming a catalyst for the return to socially aware theater in the wake of the McCarthy Era.

In addition to "A Delicate Balance" and "Seascape," he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for "Three Tall Women." His three Pulitzers rank second only to Eugene O'Neill. Tony Awards went to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "A Delicate Balance." In 1996 he received a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

At the Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony in 1996, Albee was praised for his impact on American drama: "Edward Albee burst into the American theatrical scene in the late 1950s with a variety of plays that detailed the agonies and disillusionment of that decade and the transition from the placid Eisenhower years to the turbulent 1960s. Albee's plays, with their intensity, their grappling with modern themes, and their experiments in form, startled critics and audiences alike while changing the landscape of American drama."

His 25 works include "Zoo Story," "The Sandbox," "The Death of Bessie Smith," "The Ballad of a Sad Cafe," "Tiny Alice," "Everything in the Garden," "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung," "All over" and "The Lady from Dubuque."

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," which was a scandalous success in its movie version starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, portrays a hard-drinking, disillusioned, abusive academic couple. Forsythe's father, the Tony Award-winning actor Henderson Forsythe, a UI theater alumnus, was featured in the original Broadway productions of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "A Delicate Balance."

"Seascape," which combines theatrical experiment and social commentary, is a story about a retired vacationing couple who meet a pair of sea lizards at the beach.

A London review described "A Delicate Balance" as "a caustically funny and moving exploration of love, compassion and the bonds of friendship and family" as a couple attempts to maintain the "delicate balance" between the practical facade of sanity and the terrifying reality of madness.

For many seasons Iowa Summer Rep has pursued a unique focus in American summer theater with its single-playwright festivals, but last season Iowa Summer Rep also became an Actor's Equity Company, elevating its status as a professional theater company.

A full schedule of Iowa Summer Rep 2000 will be announced later this spring.

For UI arts news and calendar updates, visit uiowa.edu/~uiowacr on the World Wide Web.