Arena's A Delicate Balance, With Chalfant Playing Hostess, Opens Feb. 12

News   Arena's A Delicate Balance, With Chalfant Playing Hostess, Opens Feb. 12
Arena Stage's new production of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winner, A Delicate Balance, opens Feb. 12 in the Washington, DC area, after previews from Feb. 6.

Kathleen Chalfant
Kathleen Chalfant

Pam MacKinnon, a frequent director of Albee plays — including The Play About the Baby, Peter and Jerry: Homelife and The Zoo Story (now titled At Home at the Zoo) and Occupant — directs an Albee-approved cast that features Kathleen Chalfant (Wit, Angels in America) as Agnes, Terry Beaver (Henry IV, The Last Night of Ballyhoo) as Tobias, Ellen McLaughlin (Angels in America) as Claire, Carla Harting (Eurydice) as Julia, Helen Hedman as Edna and James Slaughter as Harry. (Albee was on hand for part of the rehearsal process, approving script tweaks here and there.)

A Delicate Balance runs to March 15 at Arena Stage in Crystal City, Arlington, VA, a borrowed home during the renovation/construction of Arena's longtime headquarters in DC.


"A Delicate Balance is a mountain of a play, at once domestic and existential, both funny and harrowing," MacKinnon said in a statement. "It is a true joy to come to rehearsal to wrestle with this potent classic that seems perfectly written for our precarious times and having Edward around is always a treat. The actors feed off his insights and it's a great shortcut to actually hear the author's intent."

According to Arena, "the play explores the complicated family life of Agnes and Tobias, a retired couple living in suburban America with Agnes' alcoholic sister, Claire. Agnes and Tobias' house becomes unexpectedly full when their daughter, Julia, returns home after yet another failed marriage and their friends Harry and Edna move in without warning. Free-flowing cocktails, secret histories and unspoken boundaries create the prickly climate of this American family. Albee's cutting wit and probing dialogue are typified in this masterpiece…." A Delicate Balance, which gained Albee his first of three Pulitzer Prizes, premiered on Broadway in 1966 under the direction of long-time Arena collaborator Alan Schneider. A Delicate Balance marks the second staging of this work with Arena and the fifth staging of an Albee play with the company; previous works include The American Dream (1961-62 Season), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1974-75 Season), A Delicate Balance (1981-82 season; directed by Zelda Fichandler) and The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2004-05 season).

MacKinnon recently directed the premiere of Jason Grote's Maria/Stuart (Woolly Mammoth), Adrian Hall's adaptation of All the King's Men (Intiman), Itamar Moses' The Four of Us (MTC; Old Globe), Bruce Norris' The Unmentionables (Woolly Mammoth), and the premieres of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Good Boys and True (Steppenwolf) and Itamar Moses' Bach at Leipzig (Milwaukee; NYTW).

The creative team includes set designer Tony Award winner Todd Rosenthal (August: Osage County), costume designer Ilona Somogyi, light designer Allen Lee Hughes, sound designer Timothy Thompson and stage manager Martha Knight.

Tickets are $25-66. Discount tickets are available for patrons purchasing tickets for multiple shows, students and groups. A limited number of $10 tickets for patrons ages 30 and under go on sale beginning each Monday for performances that week. (All patrons must present valid ID.) HOTTIX, a limited number of half-price, day-of-performance tickets, are available 30 to 90 minutes before curtain of every performance.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Arena Stage sales office at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA.


With construction underway on the 47-year-old Southwest DC theatre campus, Arena Stage has launched Arena Restaged, "a two-year festival celebrating the rich mosaic of our nation's voices." Arena Restaged will take place throughout the time it takes to finish the expansion of the new theatre complex, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. "To allow for a timely and cost-effective renovation," Arena currently operates out of Arena Stage in Crystal City (1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA) and at the historic Lincoln Theatre (1215 U Street, NW, Washington, DC).

<i>A Delicate Balance</i> stars Ellen McLaughlin, Kathleen Chalfant, Terry Beaver and Carla Harting
A Delicate Balance stars Ellen McLaughlin, Kathleen Chalfant, Terry Beaver and Carla Harting Photo by Scott Suchman
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