News & Commentary, Stage, Theatre

Edward Albee in quotes: A play is fiction – and fiction is fact distilled into truth

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Legendary American playwright Edward Albee died on Friday in New York, aged 88. He left the world with some extraordinary plays, most notably Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Delicate Balance, The Sandbox, The Zoo Story, and his later work, 2002’s The Goat.

But he also left us with a treasure trove of quotes and musings about art, writing and life itself, both from his plays, as well as interviews and other writing.

Here’s a selection of some of his most memorable quotes:

“The only two things you can write about are life and death.” a 2001 interview with the Guardian

“If Attila the Hun were alive today, he’d be a drama critic.” – a 1988 interview with Theater Week

“Remember one thing about democracy. We can have anything we want and at the same time, we always end up with exactly what we deserve.” – as quoted in Charles Ehin’s Unleashing Intellectual Capital

“Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite.” – a 1966 interview with the Saturday Review

“You gotta have swine to show you where the truffles are.” – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

“People don’t know anything about themselves. They shouldn’t write about themselves.” – a 2013 interview with the Believer

“Do you know what a playwright is? A playwright is someone who lets his guts hang out on the stage.”– Shoptalk: Conversations About Theater and Film with Twelve Writers, One Producer — and Tennessee Williams’ Mother 

“Sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of his way to come back a short distance correctly.” – The Zoo Story

“A playwright or any creative artist is his work. The biography can be distorting, or it’s just gravy. The work is the essence of the person.” a 2011 interview with the Telegraph 

“I swear, if you existed I’d divorce you.” – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

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