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Counting the Ways and Listening: Two Plays

Counting the Ways and Listening: Two Plays
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Edward Albee
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1978
ISBN-10: 0822202425
ISBN-13: 9780822202424

About the Play:

The volume Counting the Ways and Listening contains two one-act plays by Edward Albee. "Do you love me?" a woman asks her husband, thus setting off a chain of questions, fears and wild gestures in Counting the Ways, a brilliant short play that explores the changing relationship between two people long married but no longer sure of each other's love. The play was presented in 1977 by the Hartford Stage Company on a double bill with Listening – before it – as a nicely varied evening.

Counting the Ways is masterfully constructed, and glinting with humour and insight. In a series of blackout sketches, "He" and "She" probe into the nature of their love for one another. Long married, but aware that time has wrought changes in their relationship, the two spar and thrust at each other in exchanges and reminiscences which are sometimes lighthearted, sometimes poignant, sometimes almost brutal. In the end a mosaic of experience is constructed, illuminating the nature of human love and pointing up the gathering indifference that can beset those who have been perhaps too long and too closely aligned in the sharing of years. (First performed in 1976 at the National Theatre in London; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)

What people say about Counting the Ways:

"…sharply chiseled phrases and stabs of poignancy." — New York Daily News

"…a very brilliant piece of miniature painting." — Plays and Players (London)

"…full of that particular Albee prescription of fun and menace." — The New York Times

Listening was written as a radio play, which could be performed unaltered on stage, and was broadcast in 1976 on Earplay, a nationally syndicated series on National Public Radio. Constructed with the precision of a musical composition, and described by Clive Barnes as "a chamber opera and a symbolic poem about communication," the play juxtaposes three characters – "The Man," "The Woman," and "The Girl" – and sifts through the tangled relationship they have evidently shared. The Man is amiable but distant; The Woman acerbic and bitter; The Girl is perhaps mad – a catatonic who has destroyed her own child. Elliptical in form and redolent with evocative overtones, the play weaves together its strands of conversation and soliloquy into a meaningful pattern of events – underscoring the inescapable fact that while we may listen we do not always hear, and our lives, for better or worse, are shaped accordingly. (First broadcast in 1976 on BBC Radio Three in London; Cast: 2 female, 1 male)

About the Playwright:

Edward Albee (1928-2016) was an American playwright. Widely considered the foremost American dramatist of his generation, he wrote and directed some of the best plays in contemporary American theatre. Three of his plays have received Pulitzer Prizes, and two won a Tony Award for best play. He was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 he received both the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. In 2005 he was awarded the special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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