HOUSTON -- Now here's a way to determine if you're a true theater buff: forsake the Academy Awards show for a conversation with Edward Albee. Diehards and pretenders alike will be borne out tonight at Stages Repertory Theatre when the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner (for A Delicate Balance, Seascape, and Three Tall Women) discusses his career.
Albee's appearance is the first in a three-part series of audience exchanges with leading American playwrights with Texas ties and Houston connections. On April 6, Horton Foote will be featured at the Alley Theatre. On April 27, Ntozake Shange will talk at The Ensemble Theatre. The dramaturgical seminars, collectively called The Play's the Thing: Three Playwrights & Their Work, are being sponsored by Inprint Inc., Houston's major nonprofit organization dedicated to the literary arts.
Selections from Albee's plays, which also include the Tony Award-winning Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, will be given staged readings by favored Stages performers. Albee will be interviewed by two colleagues from the University of Houston, at which he teaches in the School of Theatre, Dr. Ted Estess, Dean of the Honors College, and Jane Morin Cizik, Chair in the Humanities. (A similar set-up will occur with Foote and Shange.)
Albee's appearance coincides with Stages current revival of his 1971 All Over, a spare, experimental domestic drama rarely produced. Albee has been in residence since rehearsals; having opened Mar. 6, the show runs through Mar. 29.
In the presentational play, Wife, Mistress, Best Friend, Son, and Daughter hold a vigil at the deathbed of a famous public figure, who's off-stage. Tensions mount, recriminations fly, and power plays ensue as the unnamed characters ponder their intertwined existence. Uneasy alliances are revealed, and many are self-deluded and self-destructive. Set against the backdrop of mortality, that is, how people confront and avoid it, and how it overwhelms and undercuts, All Over is another Albee indictment of family life that begins archly and ultimately explodes. Facing death, the family realizes how they've defined, and limited, themselves through each other. For tickets to The Play's the Thing: Three Playwrights & Their Work, $15 for a single evening, $40 for the series, call Inprint Inc., at (713) 521-2026.
All Over continues through March 29 at Stages Repertory Theatre. For tickets, $15-$28, call (713) 52-STAGE.
-- By Peter Szatmary