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Monday, September 25, 2023

Life + Arts

Tony award winner to instruct theatre

Playwright Edward Albee will return to UH in Spring 2010 to teach Playwriting III.’

A Tony Award and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Albee was invited back to UH by Steve Wallace, director of the School of Theater and Dance.

‘I had a meeting with him, and I asked him if he ever missed teaching at all, and he said yes,’ Wallace said. ‘I said, ‘We’d love to have you back sometime,’ and he said, ‘How about next spring?”

While Albee is set to start in Spring 2010, he has already expressed an interest in continuing on for at least two years.

Having Albee as a part of its faculty will give the School of Theatre and Dance its third Tony Award winner.

‘We have two Tony Award-winning professors, and he would be the third, but to have someone who’s a three-time Pulitzer winner is fairly unusual nowadays,’ Wallace said. ‘It just doesn’t happen anymore.’ In terms of national recognition, it’s a major thing.’

Students will have a chance to study with a famous playwright who brings a distinctive sense of style.

‘(Albee) is a unique writer in the way that he writes,’ Wallace said. ‘He writes almost formulated plays by the time he actually puts them on paper. He does all his rewriting and editing in his head.’

Through Albee, students can learn the about how plays were written in the 20th century and how they continue to be written today.

‘ ‘He is, in a way, the old style writer,’ Wallace said. ‘He comes from the Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller era, so he brings with him the history of writing. Particularly, in the 20th century, we (had many) prolific American playwrights, and he is one of the major ones that are still left. That’s what he brings to our students, the ability to have that conversation and to realize that this is how plays were written and are still written.’

Albee wants to help build a stronger foundation for the School of Theatre and Dance and has agreed to help raise money to establish a playwriting chair at the school.

Albee’s presence in the School of Theatre and Dance marks the continuing desire for UH to achieve flagship status.

‘He could write anywhere, but he chooses to come here,’ Wallace said.’

‘It’s part of (flagship status). That’s what we’re striving towards. That’s the level I want our theater program to be at, to be able to invite national figures, and that they would come. To see them say they’re going to come for an entire spring semester, for two years in a row, that’s a major commitment by somebody like that.’

The School of Theatre and Dance hopes to make its mark on the theater world.

‘All across campus, you’re starting to see people stepping up, and this is our stepping up,’ Wallace said.’

‘To the nation, we’re saying ‘Come work with us,’ because when Edward Albee goes somewhere, the rest of the theater world pays a lot of attention.’

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