Uta wrote to her friend Jane Eakin on August 10, 1962 with “lots of news.”
I’m doing a play - don’t faint! The press releases sound like I’m an old bag coming out of an institution to try to stage a come-back! But the play is GREAT! A new play by Edward Albee called, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I think it’s a true work of art — terrifying — like a modern night-mare canvas by Bosch. The theme is fear, estrangement, self-torture, “mutual respect through mutual terror,” self-deception in order to bear it.
It takes place on a Saturday night from just after mid-night till 5 A.M. (and runs almost 4 hours) and concerns a college Professor and his wife and another younger faculty couple and how they expose their innermost souls while they’re crocked. I start rehearsing Sep. 10th and Open OCT. 13th! The other parts aren’t definitely cast yet, but I’m already working like a beaver on the play because it’s real difficult and true on about 50 layers and levels. Isn’t that exciting?
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” won the 1963 Tony awards for Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress(Uta), Best Featured Actress, Best Director, and best producer; the New York Drama Critics Circle award for best play; and, famously, although the nominating committee for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama recommended it, the trustees of Columbia University, serving as the Prize’s advisory committee, declined to name any winner that year (based on the subject matter and language of the play).
Born in Germany, Uta Hagen moved to Madison, Wisconsin, at the age of six. With the exception of several interruptions for study in Europe, Ms. Hagen received most of her schooling in Madison, her home until age sixteen. After training briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, she made her professional debut in 1937 in Dennis, Massachusetts, as “Ophelia” in Eva Le Gallienne’s production of Hamlet.Learn more