Letts, Coon, Morton Lead Signature's Edward Albee Fest


Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater continues its inaugural season this spring with an unparalleled tribute to one of the nation's greatest living playwrights, Edward Albee. The company has mounted a two-month festival featuring 30 events, making nearly every one of his plays available in performance spaces throughout the Mead Center.

The festival kicks off with Steppenwolf Theatre Company's highly acclaimed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by Pam MacKinnon (Arena's A Delicate Balance) starring Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts as George, Tony Award nominee Amy Morton as Martha, Carrie Coon as Honey and Madison Dirks as Nick in the Kreeger Theater February 25 - April 10. Simultaneously Arena Stage mounts At Home at the Zoo directed by Mary B. Robinson starring Jeff Allin as Peter, Colleen Delany as Ann and James McMenamin as Jerry in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle February 25 - April 24.

Beginning in March through the end of April, 16 theater troupes will present staged readings of Albee's work. Participating companies include The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Theater J, Taffety Punk, Round House Theatre, American Century Theater and Forum Theatre and directors include Wendy Goldberg, Amy Freed, Mary B. Robinson, Aaron Posner, Irene Lewis and Howard Shalwitz among many others. The full schedule and list of participants is below.

All staged readings are free, though reservations are required via the Arena Stage Sales Office at 202-488-3300 or www.arenastage.org. All readings will be followed by a discussion with its participating artists. Supporters of Arena Stage will be able to make reservations January 31, with subscribers receiving early access on February 2 before a general release to the public February 4, 2011.

"At Arena Stage we are fiercely committed to shining a spotlight on the giants of American theater," shares Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "There's no greater contemporary American playwright than Edward Albee, and in this first season in our new home for American artists there is no better time to celebrate the glorious canon of work he has produced."

When asked what this festival means to him, Albee expressed, "Any playwright who would not be delighted to have this amount of intelligent and creative attention paid to his work would be a foolish and ungrateful person."

March 14 Arena Stage will honor Albee with the presentation of the American Artist Award during its annual benefit to support the company's Community Engagement programs. More information on the event entitled, An Evening with Edward Albee, to be release at a later date.

As part of the ongoing Arena Stage salon series, there will also be an Edward Albee Festival Salon Monday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m., featuring free public conversations with some of the artists from At Home At the Zoo, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the festival readings.

Edward Albee (Playwright) was born on March 12, 1928 and began writing plays 30 years later. His plays include The Zoo Story (1958); The Death of Bessie Smith (1959); The Sandbox (1959); The American Dream (1960); Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961-62, TonyAward); Tiny Alice (1964); A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize; 1996, Tony Award); All Over (1971); Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize); Listening (1975); Counting the Ways (1975); The Lady From Dubuque (1977-78); The Man Who Had Three Arms (1981); Finding the Sun (1982); Marriage Play (1986-87); Three Tall Women (1991, Pulitzer Prize); Fragments (1993); The Play About the Baby (1997); The Goat Or, Who is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony Award); Occupant (2001); At Home at the Zoo: (Act 1, Homelife; Act 2, The Zoo Story) (2004) and Me, Myself, & I (2007). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and President of The Edward F. Albee Foundation. Mr. Albee was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980. In 1996 he received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. In 2005, he was awarded a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

About the Productions:

In Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? audiences are invited for drinks with George and Martha. As wickedly hilarious today as when it first shocked audiences, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is an ingeniously funny play that packs a helluva wallop. What starts as verbal sparring at an impromptu cocktail party, devolves into a no-holds-barrEd Battle of wits and wills. With brilliant writing and some of the greatest characters ever created for the stage, Albee set a new standard for American theater with this sharp, vicious Molotov cocktail of a play.

"Steppenwolf Theatre and Amy and Tracy, two incomparable theater artists, were the perfect fit to really explore and do right by Edward's masterpiece," shares MacKinnon."Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play that drives playwrights to surpass it, actors to yearn for it, directors to dream about it and audiences to laugh, shudder, cry and empathize their way through it."

In At Home at the Zoo Albee has outdone himself once again with a riveting drama that expands on The Zoo Story, the one-act that launched his career 50 years ago. In this meticulous and nuanced look at the lives of three New Yorkers, an everyday conversation between a husband and wife takes an unexpected turn into dangerously personal territory. The revelations and confrontations catapult them from their delicately balanced world onto life-changing paths. With the intensity and honesty for which Albee is known, At Home at the Zoo reveals the cutting truth about the razor's edge of our humanity.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of this celebration of the work of Edward Albee, and especially to be directing a play that encompasses both his early and his recent work in one evening of theater," adds Robinson. "And the intimate and embracing space of the Kogod Cradle is the perfect environment in which to experience this beautiful, funny and haunting exploration of what it means to be in a human relationship."

The Company of Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?:

Carrie Coon (Honey). Regional credits include: Magnolia (Goodman); Bronte (Remy Bumppo); Blackbird and Reasons to Be Pretty (Renaissance Theaterworks); Anna Christie, Our Town, The Diary of Anne Frank (Madison Rep); and four seasons with American Players Theatre. A native of Copley, Ohio, Ms. Coon received her M.F.A. from Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.

Madison Dirks (Nick). Credits include: The Chosen and Gary (Steppenwolf); Girl, 20 (Serendipity, also L.A.); A Man for All Seasons (TimeLine); The Last Supper (Infusion); Hillbilly Antigone (Lookingglass). Film and TV credits include: According to Jim; Public Enemies; and the upcoming The Dilemma. Mr. Dirks is a native of Baton Rouge, La., and a graduate of Louisiana State Univ.

Tracy Letts (George) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2002. Previous Steppenwolf productions include American Buffalo, Betrayal, The Pillowman, Last of the Boys, The Pain and the Itch, The Dresser, Homebody/Kabul, The Dazzle, Glengarry Glen Ross (also Dublin and Toronto), Three Days of Rain, many others. Other productions include: Orson's Shadow (Barrow St., NY); Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Alliance, Atlanta); The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (Red Orchid); Conquest of the South Pole (Famous Door); Bouncers (the Next Lab).­TV and Film: Guinevere, U.S. Marshals, Profiler, Prison Break, Seinfeld, Home Improvement, many others. As a playwright, he is the author of Killer Joe, Bug (also screenplay), Man from Nebraska (Pulitzer finalist), August: Osage County (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award for Best Play) and Superior Donuts.

Amy Morton (Martha) is an actor, director and Steppenwolf ensemble member since 1997. Her Steppenwolf acting credits include: August: Osage County (also Broadway, London and Sydney), One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (also on Broadway),Betrayal, Last of the Boys, The Well-Appointed Room, Berlin Circle, The Royal Family, Homebody/Kabul, Three Days of Rain, The Unmentionables, Cherry Orchard, The Time of Your Life, and many others. Directing credits include American Buffalo, Our Country's Good, The Weir, Glengarry Glen Ross, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Dublin Carol, Topdog/Underdog, We All Went Down to Amsterdam, The Pillowman, Love-Lies-Bleeding, The Dresser and Awake and Sing!. Before joining Steppenwolf, she was a member of The Remains Theatre Ensemble in Chicago for 15 years. She can be in seen in the films Up in the Air, Rookie of the Year, 8mm, Falling Downand the soon-to-be-released The Dilemma.

Pam MacKinnon (Director) is an Obie Award-winning New York-based director. Recent productions include premieres of Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award and Lortel nominations); Rachel Axler's Smudge (Women's Project); and Cusi Cram's A Lifetime Burning (Primary Stages); as well as Shakespeare's Othello (Shakespeare Santa Cruz); and Gina Gionfriddo's Becky Shaw (South Coast Rep). She is a longtime interpreter of the plays of Edward Albee, having directed A Delicate Balance (Arena Stage); The Goat, or Who's Sylvia? (Alley and Vienna's English Theatre); and The Play About the Baby (Philadelphia Theatre and Goodman); as well as premieres of At Home at the Zoo (formerly called Peter and Jerry at Hartford Stage and Second Stage); and Occupant (Signature). Additional recent work includes premieres of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Good Boys and True (Steppenwolf); Itamar Moses' The Four of Us (Manhattan Theatre Club and Old Globe); Richard Greenberg's Our Mother's Brief Affair (South Coast Rep); Jason Grote's Maria/Stuart (Woolly Mammoth); Itamar Moses' Bach at Leipzig (NYTW and Milwaukee Rep); Sheri Wilner's Father Joy (Contemporary American Theatre Festival and Summer Play Festival); as well as productions of Bruce Norris' The Unmentionables (Woolly Mammoth); Richard Dresser's Below the Belt (ACT Seattle); and David Mamet's Romance (Goodman). She is a Drama League and Lincoln Center Directors Lab alumna and an affiliated artist with the New York downtown company Clubbed Thumb.

The Creative Team for Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? also includes Scenic Designer Todd Rosenthal, Costume Designer Nan Cibula-Jenkins, Lighting Designer Allen Lee Hughes, Sound Designers Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, Fight Choreographer Nick Sandys, Stage Manager Malcolm Ewen and Assistant Stage Manager Keri Schultz.

The Company of At Home at the Zoo:

Jeff Allin (Peter) was recently seen at Olney Theater in The Savannah Disputation. Local appearances include Richard III and The Tempest (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Bal Masque (Theater J), The Price (CenterStage), The Seafarer (Studio Theater), Permanent Collection and Treasure Island (Round House). He appeared on Broadway in Plenty and Everett Beekin at Lincoln Center. He's performed in theaters across the country, including ACT, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Hartford Stage and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He's been seen on TV in St. Elsewhere, Matlock, Diagnosis Murder, Murder One, Star Trek Voyager and The Next Generation, L.A. Law, Chicago Hope, Moonlighting, NYPD Blue and seven years on The Bold and the Beautiful. His indie film, Sleeping and Waking, can be seen on Netflix.

Colleen Delany (Ann) returns to Arena Stage, having previously performed in Agamemnon and His Daughters. She's made numerous appearances at Washington Shakespeare Company (with whom she is an affiliated artist), including Isabelle/Sabine in The Liar, Cherry in The Beaux' Stratagem (Helen Hayes-nominated performance), Lavinia in Titus Andronicus, Thaisa in Pericles and Desdemona in Othello (Helen Hayes-nominated performance). She has performed at many D.C. area theaters, including Studio Theater, Theater J, Imagination Stage, Scena Theater and Woolly Mammoth. A prolific audio book narrator, Delany has recorded hundreds of books for the National Library Service and has given voice to many characters in the Graphic Audio catalog, including Krysty Wroth, Annja Creed and Wonder Woman.