I Just Read: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆

So while I didn’t technically just read this play, as I took it out from the library over a month ago, I did just complete it. One aspect of my new blog is book reviews, which will include dramatic scripts, as is the case today. The first play I read in my quest to become a better writer and to read more often, is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf published by Edward Albee in 1962.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf follows the story of middle-aged married couple Martha and George, who have just returned to their New England home from a University faculty party late at night. Martha has invited a younger married couple, Nick and Honey, to their house after the party for a drink. Nick, who serves as a new biology professor on campus, and Honey then must endure an entire night of “fun and games” with this couple as George and Martha proceed to peel back the surface of their own lives and the lives of this young couple.

This story is much less plot-driven as it is character driven. A lot of the character’s motivations and secrets are revealed through long conversations between two or more characters. This, for me, both helped and hindered my opinion of the play. On the one hand, this greatly affected the pacing of the story because there was so little story. For the first act into the second act of the play, it felt like nothing was really happening or being developed. Things about the characters would slowly be revealed through long conversations, and at times this made the story really drag on for me and leave me frustrated that not much was happening.

From the 1966 film version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, directed by Mike Nichols. From left to right, Nick (George Segal), Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), and George (Richard Burton).

With that being said, how the play really benefited with being so character driven, is that I found these characters to be super fascinating. Martha, the campus president’s daughter, and George, an associate professor of history, are constantly at each other’s throats, trying to both embarrass each other and get the upper hand. While it did get rather tedious listening to them consistently insult each other, I think that was the point. Both George and Martha seem as though they want to “win” at this game they call their marriage. It’s rather compelling and invigorating trying to figure out what George and Martha will pull out of their sleeve next, and what embarrassing relic from their past they will use to humiliate the other. It comes to the point when in the final act when they both start insulting Nick, and their motivations aren’t even that clear anymore. It makes them seem all the more human. Even Nick and Honey, who seem like a simple and rather dull young married couple, are discovered during this one night to have their own secrets beneath the surface of their seemingly innocent marriage.

Overall, I found the character’s to be very compelling, between the way both of their marriages are exposed for what they are, to the large, twisted, and even quite depressing, end result of all of this (which I had to look up afterward to fully understand), to the clashes of tension between characters. What really bogs this story down for me is the pacing which can often get tedious as we have to wait through long conversations before all that much is really discovered.

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Fall Play @ BCA

Below are some photos from my high school’s fall play, Loves Labours Found: Don’t Trust the Boyz, a contemporary sequel to Shakespeare’s Loves Labours Lost. This sequel was created, written, re-written, cast, staged (in the round I should add), produced, costumed, and finally put on for the first time anywhere at the Bergen County Academies high school in Hackensack, New Jersey.

The entire cast and crew of LLF: Don’t Trust the Boyz!

It took two months for the play to be fully realized, first in a project-based class that lasted two hours on Wednesday during trimester three, and finally during the first trimester of this year, leading up to the show’s performance Friday, November 16th at 7pm, and Saturday, November 17th at 2pm and 7pm. 

Our beautifully designed program cover!

During the project class last year, which I was involved in, we spent most of the time reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s original play, coming up with the basic concept, and starting to assign roles for the characters within the concept. At my school, we hold auditions for the fall play the year before, and because it is a huge ensemble piece, everyone who auditioned was automatically in the show. During the rehearsal process leading up to the show, the entire cast and most of the crew was involved with actually writing the play and finalizing all plot and character details. We also held another round of auditions for specific roles, and the entire cast and crew ended up casting the show itself! I ended up playing Boyet, who in our version, is the intern at the recording studio that the Princess runs with the help of her three ladies, Maria, Katherine, and Rosaline.

The play, I must say, turned out really well! It went through multiple re-writes because of all of the wonderful ideas that the cast brought to the table. The play would never have been as amazing as it was without everyone’s involvement, especially considering the huge amount of musical talent within the cast which was very much essential considering how our show has original raps, songs, and choreography. We even had to write and do re-writes as we staged the show to the point where we didn’t finish the script until two weeks before opening night! While none of the nights were technically flawless, and while there were multiple times I messed or didn’t think that I had enough energy, (and I know a few other actors felt the same) the audience loved it! It brought me so much joy to hear them laughing (and sometimes even to things that my character said!). 

The final thing I would like to say is what a great experience this was! Not only did I get closer to the people in my class, but I also got closer to cast and crew members in this production who aren’t in Theater, as well as to the upperclassman both inside and outside of Theater. This was also my first BCA speaking role, so I felt like I could really show off what I could bring to BCA productions. I was not a huge role, but I still had so much fun acting alongside everyone and bringing what I could to the crazy world we created! I learned so much from this experience not just about writing, but about teamwork, acting, diction and volume (since we worked in the round), and about what I could bring to a production. Overall, this was an amazing experience and I can’t for the next show I am involved in!