When the news broke that our greatest living playwright was no longer living, my social media filled with people sharing it. And as I watched the comment threads on facebook unfurl I did not add one word.
Why not? Hard to say. Certainly anyone who knows me knows that I adored both the man and his art. Anything he ever had playing I had to see at least once. On the face of it, one could say I barely knew Mr. Albee... so much so that whenever I addressed him directly that was how I chose to do it. And yet, the two times he spoke to me and/or about me elevated him to unique status for me as so much more than the brilliant artist I admired, but as a champion for bravery in the face of cowardice with an unwavering dedication to telling it like it is, consequences be damned.
I first met Mr. Albee at the theatre conference that was named The Edward Albee Theatre Conference for about a minute until he protested and it was renamed Last Frontier. Held each June in Valdez, Alaska, this strange and wonderful gathering brought together 50 playwrights and countless actors for about 10 days of what felt like theatre summer camp in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth. My play, BODILY FUNCTION, took the top prize that summer but before that happy surprise, I had the pleasure of sitting through two readings of the play. It was back to back readings all day every day and the odds of Edward Albee himself actually attending my own seemed slim. Yet, there he was seated conspicuously in the front row for my first reading and that is how about 90 minutes later I found myself scarfing down a sandwich in the hallway eyeing him from a distance of about 30 feet and wondering what he thought.