The cover of The Age Issue of The Dramatist. An illustration of two sets of hands, one older and one younger, playing piano side by side.
The Plight of the Playwright

As this issue was going to press, Edward Albee died at the age of 88 at his home in Montauk, NY. A staunch advocate for the Guild and authorial rights, he joined in 1960 and became a Council Member in 1965 where he remained active until his death. Here, we reprint Edward’s comments in “Playwrights on Playwriting” from the Summer 1972 issue of The Dramatists Guild Quarterly. It was an excerpt edited for print from his comments during a discussion on “The Plight of the Playwright” sponsored by the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Foundation, moderated by David E. LeVine.

His words to us seem as timely today as they did 44 years ago.

Edward Albee headshot

The only thing that need concern us, I think, is to remember that the playwright is a creative artist and that playwriting is an art form. What should a playwright expect from his art form? Playwriting is an attempt to communicate a sense of one’s time, a sense of one’s self to other people who are interested in being communicated with. But let me be a devil’s advocate against myself: we all enjoy commercial success in the theatre, but that’s quite a different matter from being able to make a living by one’s craft.

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Edward Albee
Edward Albee

(March 12, 1928 – September 16, 2016) was an American dramatist of over 30 works including The Zoo Story (1958), The Sandbox (1959), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962, Tony Award for Best Play), and The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002, Tony Award for Best Play) among others.

His plays A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994) each won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.