Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee has been in the news a lot lately. Albee died in 2016, and since then his estate has turned down a multi-racial production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and put his contemporary art collection up for auction for an estimated $9 million. Now The New York Times reports that his incomplete works may never see the light of day.
The clause in Albee's will is pretty clear: "If at the time of my death I shall leave any incomplete manuscripts I hereby direct my executors to destroy such incomplete manuscripts."
Albee's estate wouldn't comment on whether they've followed his orders, but the directive is very much in character — and Emily Mann isn't the least bit surprised. She's the artistic director of the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., and she worked with Albee on several plays. "He wanted to have authority over everything of his that was on the stage," she says. That meant casting, props and even the color of the set.
Mann says the playwright was so exacting that when actress Rosemary Harris was rehearsing his play All Over, "He wrote me a note on one of Rosemary's lines which was, 'I didn't hear the comma.' "
According to Mann, whenever they worked on a new play together, Albee pretty much kept his writing a secret. There were never readings or workshops, just a final draft. The playwright told me in a 2008 interview, "I don't think a play should go in rehearsal until it's ready to open."