I don’t know much of anything about Albee but I thought him a wonder to read, left an impression on me. On top of that I thought the interaction between him and the interviewer was pretty funny and peculiar, and I’m glad they kept all that in the interview. Here they are:
“Well, when I was six years old I decided, not that I was going to be, but with my usual modesty, that I was a writer. So I starting writing poetry”
“In the two or three or four months that it takes me to write a play, I find that the reality of the play is a great deal more alive for me than what passes for reality.”
“If I’ve been accused a number of times of writing plays where the endings are ambivalent, indeed, that’s the way I find life.”
“It’s a question I despise, and it always seems to me better to slough off the answer to a question that I consider to be a terrible invasion of privacy—the kind of privacy that a writer must keep for himself. If you intellectualize and examine the creative process too carefully it can evaporate and vanish. It’s not only terribly difficult to talk about, it’s also dangerous. You know the old story about the—I think it’s one of Aesop’s fables, or perhaps not, or a Chinese story—about the very clever animal that saw a centipede that he didn’t like. He said, “My god, it’s amazing and marvelous how you walk with all those hundreds and hundreds of legs. How do you do it? How do you get them all moving that way?” The centipede stopped and thought and said, “Well, I take the left front leg and then I—” and he thought about it for a while, and he couldn’t walk.”
“There’s a time to go to the typewriter. It’s like a dog: the way a dog before it craps wanders around in circles—a piece of earth, an area of grass, circles it for a long time before it squats. It’s like that: figuratively circling the typewriter getting ready to write, and then finally one sits down.”
“The characters’ lives have gone on before the moment you chose to have the action of the play begin. And their lives are going to go on after you have lowered the final curtain on the play, unless you’ve killed them off. A play is a parenthesis that contains all the material you think has to be contained for the action of the play. Where do you end that? Where the characters seem to come to a pause … where they seem to want to stop—rather like, I would think, the construction of a piece of music”.
Your earlier work, from The Zoo Story to Virginia Woolf, brought you very quick and major international celebrity, even though today at … thirty-eight—
When this is published it will be thirty-eight—”
Since I guess it’s fairly imbecilic to ask a writer what he considers to be his best work or his most important work, perhaps I could ask you this question: which of all of your plays do you feel closest to?
Well, naturally the one I’m writing right now.”
Interview from The Paris Review can be found here : http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4350/the-art-of-theater-no-4-edward-albee