Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Arena Stage to Present Albee's 'A Delicate Balance' Feb. 6 - March 15

Winner of the 1967 Pulitzer Prize, Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance comes to Arena Stage in a contemporary and provocative new staging under the direction of experienced Albee collaborator Pam Mackinnon. Featuring Broadway stars Kathleen Chalfant (Wit, Angels in America), Terry Beaver (Henry IV, The Last Night of Ballyhoo), Ellen McLaughlin (Angels in America) and Carla Harting (Eurydice),joined by Helen Hedman and James Slaughter, A Delicate Balance runs February 6-March 15, 2009 at Arena Stage in Crystal City. The press opening performance is Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.


"Albee is fearless about writing stories that get us in the solar plexus, and he does so with his brilliant wit, dynamic storytelling and rigorous use of language," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "His work draws the best artists, and with this production audiences are fortunate to have an enormously strong cast and creative team-approved by Albee himself."

A frequent director of Albee plays, MacKinnon has directed The Play About the Baby, the world premieres of Peter and Jerry: Homelife and The Zoo Story (now titled At Home at the Zoo) and Occupant, as well as the U.S. regional and European premieres of The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

"A Delicate Balance is a mountain of a play, at once domestic and existential, both funny and harrowing," says MacKinnon. "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."

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 hailed as "an evening of theatrical fireworks" by The New York Times.

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).

Edward Albee (Playwright) was born 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, Tony); Tiny Alice (1964); A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer; 1996, Tony); All Over (1971); Seascape (1974, Pulitzer); 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); Fragments (1993); The Play About the Baby (1997); The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2000, 2002 Tony); Occupant (2001); and At Home at the Zoo (Act 1, Homelife; Act 2, The Zoo Story) (2004). He's a member of the Dramatists Guild council and president of the Edward F. Albee Foundation. Albee received the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1980. In 1996, he received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. In 2005, he received a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.

Pam Mackinnon (Director) recently directed the premiere of Jason Grote's Maria/Stuart (Woolly Mammoth), Adrian Hall's adaptation of Penn Warren's 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). She is a frequent director of Edward Albee's plays, having directed the premieres of Occupant (Signature) and Peter and Jerry (Hartford; Second Stage) as well as The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (Alley; Vienna), and The Play About the Baby (Philadelphia; Goodman). She is an affiliated artist with the downtown New York company Clubbed Thumb Inc.

Cast of A Delicate Balance:

Terry Beaver (Tobias) Broadway: Inherit the Wind, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Democracy, Twentieth Century (Roundabout), Henry IV (Lincoln Center), The Man Who Came to Dinner (Roundabout), The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Tony nom, Outer Critics Circle Award). Regional: Summer and Smoke (Hartford), Proof (Coconut Grove), How I Learned to Drive (Dallas Theater Center), Angels in America, Betrayal, The Dining Room, The Shadow Box (Alliance Theater). Features: Imaginary Heroes, Hearts in Atlantis, Company Man. TV: West Wing, Shot in the Heart (HBO film), Now and Again, Law & Order(s), Third Watch, The Price of a Broken Heart, I'll Fly Away (recurring role).

Kathleen Chalfant (Agnes) Broadway: Angels in America (Tony and Drama Desk noms), M. Butterfly, Racing Demon, Encores! series Bloomer Girl. West End: Wit. Off-Broadway: Wit (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Obie, Drama League, Lucille Lortel, Los Angeles Ovation awards), Dead Man's Cell Phone, Great Expectations, Henry V (Callaway Award), Nine Armenians (Drama Desk nom), Twelve Dreams, End Game (Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Performance). Film: Murder and Murder, Five Corners, Duplicity, A Price Below Rubies, The Last New Yorker, Second Guessing Granada. TV: The Laramie Project, A Death in the Family (American Masterpiece Theatre), Law & Order, Rescue Me, the Steven King miniseries Storm of the Century, Voices from the White House, Lackawanna Blues, The Guardian. Recipient of 2003 Obie and Outer Critics Circle awards for her performance in Talking Heads.

Carla Harting (Julia) last appeared at Arena Stage in Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play, a cycle. Other collaborations with Ruhl include Dead Man's Cell Phone (Playwrights Horizons) and Eurydice (Yale Rep, Second Stage NY premiere). Harting has worked with NY theaters 13P, Barrow Street, Clubbed Thumb and New Georges. Regional work includes The Lady from Dubuque (Seattle Rep); Night and Day (Wilma); The Scene, After Ashley, Kid Simple, Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls and The Blue Room (Humana); A Midsummer Night's Dream (La Jolla); What the Butler Saw (South Coast); Uncle Vanya and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (San Diego Rep); and The Bright and Bold Design (Studio Theatre). Film and TV credits include Never Forever, Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Helen Hedman (Edna) has previously been seen at Arena in The Women, The Importance of Being Earnest and Caucasian Chalk Circle. She's performed in numerous productions with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, including Lady Windermere's Fan, The Country Wife and A Woman of No Importance. Highlights among her over 30 productions at Olney Theatre are Piaf (Hayes nom), Omnium Gatherum, Broken Glass, and Potomac Theatre Project's No End of Blame, Perfect Pie and Stanley. Other highlights include The Sex Habits of American Women and My Fair Lady (Signature Theatre); Mrs. Farnsworth, The Seagull and Kimberly Akimbo (Rep Stage); and Prototype 373-G (Fringe '08). Hedman has worked at Everyman Theatre, Round House, Studio, Ford's, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, among many others in the U.S.

Ellen McLaughlin (Claire) has worked regionally and in New York, both on and Off-Broadway. She originated the role of the Angel in Angels in America, appearing in every American production, from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run. Regional credits include Pirate Jenny in Three Penny Opera (Trinity Rep, Elliot Norton Award), Donny in Cryptogram (Yale Rep), Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (Berkeley Rep) and the Homebody in the Intiman Theater production of Homebody/Kabul, directed by Bart Sher. Her TV work includes appearances on Law and Order. McLaughlin is also an award-winning playwright. Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway and received numerous national and international productions.

James Slaughter (Harry) has appeared at Arena Stage in Stand Up Tragedy and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He has performed in dozens of productions at Olney Theatre, including An Enemy of the People (Hayes nom), Democracy, Omnium Gatherum, The Constant Wife, Morning's at Seven, The Miracle Worker, Equus, The Elephant Man, Blithe Spirit and Death of a Salesman. Other area appearances include The History Boys, The Invention of Love and Gross Indecency (Studio); the world premiere of Nest (Signature); King Lear and Fuente Ovejuna (Shakespeare); The Diary of Anne Frank and Rebel Armies Deep into Chad (Round House); The Marian Anderson Story and The Shakespeare Stealer (Kennedy Center); and Plenty, The Castle and Good (Potomac Theatre Project). He appeared Off-Broadway in Scenes from an Execution (Atlantic). TV credits include Homicide and The Music of Thomas Morley.

Set Designer is Tony Award winner Todd Rosenthal (August Osage County), Costume Designer is Ilona Somogyi, Light Designer is Allen Lee Hughes, Sound Designer is Timothy Thompson and Stage Manager is Martha Knight.

A Delicate Balance is sponsored by Joan and David Maxwell.

Arena Stage's 2008/09 season is sponsored by The Family of H. Max and Josephine F. Ammerman, Andrew R. Ammerman, and Hubert (Hank) and Charlotte Schlosberg.

A Delicate Balance Special Events, Ticket Information & Performance Calendar

The Salon - Monday, February 9, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
In the spirit of artistic and literary salons of the past, The Salon features artistic leaders from Arena Stage in a series of lively, in-depth conversations with the playwrights, actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs and audiences that make Arena Stage unique. The Salon is free to Arena Stage subscribers and donors ($75+) and only $3 for the general public. Reservations must be made through the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300.

Southwest Night - Friday, February 13, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
An invitation is extended to our Southwest D.C. neighbors to buy $20 tickets, plus applicable fees, for one designated Friday evening performance of each production. Proof of Southwest D.C. residency or employment for each audience member of each party must be presented at the time of purchase. Tickets are limited to four per person and are based on availability. To purchase tickets, call (202) 488-3300 or stop by the Arena Stage Sales Office.

An Evening with Ellen McLaughlin and Kathleen Chalfant - February 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Please join The Writer's Center in a discussion with Ellen McLaughlin and Kathleen Chalfant, actors in the Arena Stage production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. General admission is $5, but admission is free for those who bought discounted tickets (through The Writer's Center) to the February 22, 2:00 p.m. production. To purchase tickets, call (301) 654-8664 or stop by The Writer's Center. 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815. www.writer.org.

Out at Arena - Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
For gay and lesbian audiences on selected Wednesday evenings, a post-show discussion with cast members and a reception following the performance are offered. Reception is FREE for subscribers of the Out at Arena series.

TICKETS: Tickets are $25-66, plus applicable fees. 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 90 to 30 minutes before curtain of every performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.arenastage.org, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Arena Stage Sales Office at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202.


Related Articles View More Washington, DC Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You