Pam MacKinnon has chosen one of her friend Edward Albee’s earlier works to be her first directorial outing at A.C.T. since becoming its artistic director this season. In the 1975 Pulitzer award-winning play Seascape, an older couple meets a younger, and more amphibian couple on the beach, in a play about several sorts of evolutions.
There’s more information at the A.C.T. website.
“I got to know Edward working on his then-newer plays,” MacKinnon says. “And so it was super exciting as a younger director to get to know Edward in the rehearsal hall. And working on plays that were still very alive for him.” That is, works like The Play About the Baby and The Goat. “Years into our professional relationship and our friendship, I started to direct his classics, like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance.” This play won the Pulitzer prize in 1975, and contains some of the hallmarks of his other works. “Seascape is very much in an Albee tradition, a marriage play, so is Virginia Woolf, so is A Delicate Balance, so is The Goat. It’s also an older couple-younger couple play, so is Virginia Woolf, so is Play About the Baby. Like any great artist, you know, there are some itches that he scratched.” He takes a turn for the surreal in this one, though, with two of the four characters being lizards. “They’re creatures on the cusp of being something other than lizard. I mean there’s… this is a play about evolution, whether it’s an evolution in a self: ‘I’ve been teaching, and a professor, and now I’m retired.’ That’s an evolution of sorts. ‘We’ve been married more than 40 years, and who are we together?’ That’s an evolution of sorts. And this is taking that very human personal metaphor, and pushing it into the biological. It takes place on that strip between land and sea, and at a certain point in the play, up come these creatures who didn’t belong any more underwater, and had that itch to climb.” MacKinnon wanted the first play she directed in her new role at A.C.T. to be an Albee work. “Going back feels very, very comfortable. I feel like he’s in the room. This is the first production that I’m directing where he’s not alive, and I can’t call him on the phone and ask him what something means, but I feel his presence.”