New life for a controversial classic

LIHUE— Kauai Community Players is breathing new life into Edward Albee’s controversial, world-famous play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” through the direction of Cass Foster.

“It’s a superb combination of drama, humor and absurdity,” Foster said. “So while the play is certainly eyebrow raising, it’s filled with a lot of laughter. As one critic described it, ‘it’s a witty and dangerous battle of the sexes.’”

Actors Nellie Foster, Morgan Liddell, Bailey Hutton and Alexandria Taogoshi of Kauai Community Players, headline the story of George (Liddell), a university history professor and Martha (Foster), the daughter of the university’s president; a couple who have just returned from a party and invite another couple Nick (Hutton) and Honey (Taogoshi) to join them. Ultimately, they drag the young couple into their dysfunctional marriage with dangerous results.

“We’re looking at what I would consider the struggle to the achieve the American Dream,” the director said. “We see this very entertaining exchange with people who have a dysfunctional history. It was an incredibly challenging rehearsal process for my actors to explore the nature of the script.”

Having practiced for four months, the actors said they can’t wait to get on stage.

“I’m of course nervous but excited,” Hutton said. “I’m interested to see how Kauai islanders will respond to a show like this. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a classic. This show has an immense amount of subtext, layers of thought and motivations that even we who have been studying it for 5 months are still finding new things. I sincerely hope that Kauai will appreciate this about the show and not just take it at face value.”

Foster said that he is looking forward to seeing the actors perform on stage. He had been concerned about the toll the play could put on the cast because of its emotional and controversial nature.

“I was told that I probably wasn’t going to find any actors who were willing to rehears for four months,” the director said. “The irony is I found four sensational actors who were willing to commit themselves to this particular script. Unfortunately, this type of play requires that kind of commitment. It’s so beyond learning of the lines and learning of the blocking.”

Although Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf was originally selected for the Pulitzer Prize in 1963, the University of Colombia Board of Trustees found the production to be too controversial and rejected the idea.

The play did win a multitude of other prizes including the New York Drama Critics Awards in 1962, the Tony Award for Best Play in 1963 and the Evening Standard Award in 1964, according to the Edward Albee Society website.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf will debuts this weekend with shows at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. It will run for two more weekends following the opening, May 15-17 and May 22-24.

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