Mystic Bison Theatre & Dance

Presents

Edward Albee's
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
*
(Winner of the 1963 Tony Award)

BACKGROUND NOTES

To appreciate the play, take full note of its historical context in 1962.  American life  had not yet experienced the vast wave of change from the maturation of the baby-boom generation and the Vietnam War in the late 1960's. 

Men and women related to each other very differently.  Men worked, and women, despite their education, were expected to stay at home and to devote themselves to having children and making a home.  The Supreme Court had not yet legalized the taking of birth control pills in its decision of Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 or abortion in its decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973.  Couples rarely divorced.

Global politics and the position of the United States within it were different.  World War II and the Nazis were fresh in the minds on many.  The Nazis were deeply interested in eugenics.  The 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine went to Watson and Crick for their discovery of DNA in 1953.  Japan was rebuilding after War World II and becoming an industrial power.  John F. Kennedy was President.  The Cold War competition with Russia and China had begun.  The United States invaded the Bay of Pigs in 1961, and the Cuba Missile Crisis occurred in 1962.

The play makes no particular mention of George's racial background although it does specify the young couple as blonde.  Because we have cast George as a minority, we note the slow wave of integration that had been building for decades.  President Franklin Roosevelt integrated the war industries during World War II to expand the labor pool, and his successor Harry Truman integrated the armed forces.  Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954, and President Kennedy met with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1962. 

It is against this backdrop that Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? appeared on Broadway in 1962.

Although a gripping story on its face, the multi-layered symbolism of the play has attracted countless scholars.  You can find many good (and some bad) analyses of the play online.

*-Produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
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