Community Theatre League presents ‘Virginia Woolf’

When asked if they’ve ever heard of the play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” most people will say, “Yes.” But when asked what the play is about, those same people may simply offer a blank stare. Although the title is one that is commonly recognized, the plot is not as well known. The Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., hopes to change that as they present “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

“I am excited that the Moyer Studio is bringing to life this true classic,” said Seth Sponhouse, CTL’s educational coordinator and Moyer Studio production manager. “The production staff and cast has taken the text to heart and really run away with it, creating a fresh retelling of a story that resonates as fresh today as it did when it was written.”

First staged in 1962 at the Billy Rose Theatre on Broadway, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is one of playwright Edward Albee’s most popular plays. Albee’s blending of theatricality and biting dialogue is often credited with helping to reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s. His works were often considered frank examinations of the modern condition and this one is no different as it scrutinizes the breakdown of a marriage between a middle-aged couple. Audiences are drawn into the couple’s life as their fun night quickly turns sour when arguments fueled by alcohol and twenty years of marital dysfunction exposes fears and secrets.

Keith Wagner, who plays the husband George, said, “I’ve often heard people describe the play in negative terms about the relationship between George and Martha, but what has affected me the most is how genuinely loving their relationship is. Yes, they bicker with one another, but they also protect one another and try to rescue each other.”

He went on to point out, “It is important, historically, because it takes an honest, warts-and-all-look at marriage at a time (late 50s/early 60s) when marriage was represented in a more idealized/sanitized way in popular entertainment.”

Wagner believes the play will make the audience uncomfortable at times due to the realistic exchanges between George and Martha. He also said, “But I also think the play is very funny and in the end very loving and hopefully will provide the audiences with a full theatrical experience.”

Which is exactly what the play has been doing for over 50 years. First staged in 1962, the play won both the Tony Award for Best Play and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play in 1963. It also was adapted into a film in 1966, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis.

Seth Sponhouse said the small atmosphere the CTL is providing for the play will engage the audience in a new way. “With a house of only 50 seats, the audience is truly the fifth member of the cast,” he said. The Moyer Studio, located on the third floor of the Community Theater League’s home at the Trade & Transit Centre in downtown Williamsport, where the play is being performed, offers an intimate 50-seat black box theatre designed to present intimate dramas and comedies. It is in this space that CTL hopes to acquaint theatre-goers with this dynamic and enthralling play, forever ingraining the play, not just the title, once and for all in their memory.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” opens the Community Theatre League’s Moyer Studio Season and features Kay Hawkes as Martha, Keith Wagner as George, Nick Fischer as Nick, Kira Kitchen as Honey, and is directed by Desirae Mausteller.

For more information, call 570-327-1777 or visit www.ctlshows.com.

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