Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 8:48 am | Fair 56º


Gerald Carpenter: Santa Paula Gives Albee a Second Act

At Home at the Zoo playing Fridays, Saturdays through Oct. 10 at Main Stage

The Santa Paula Theater Center continues its production of playwright Edward Albee’s play, At Home at the Zoo, with Taylor Kasch, Dave Newcomer and Sasha Heslip; directed by David Ralphe.

Edward Albee
Edward Albee

The show runs Fridays and Saturdays, now through Oct. 10, on the Santa Paula’s Main Stage, 125 S. Seventh St.

Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that “There are no second acts to American lives,” but Albee seems determined to get around this by no means iron-clad premise. His first published play, written in 1958, was a two-character one-act called The Zoo Story. If you have seen it or read it, you know that a second act would be highly improbable. Indeed, as far as American producers were concerned, at first, one act was one too many, and The Zoo Story was first staged in what was then known as West Berlin, on Sept. 28, 1959 (almost exactly 51 years ago). It had its American debut the following year, in Greenwich Village’s Provincetown Playhouse, a theater (and theater company) founded in 1918 by Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Djuna Barnes. Albee’s maiden voyage on the American stage was made in exalted company: Provincetown paired The Zoo Story with Samuel Beckett’s one-act, Krapp’s Last Tape (“Just been listening to that stupid bastard I took myself for 30 years ago, hard to believe I was ever as bad as that.”).

That was Albee’s “first act,” both literally and in the Fitzgerald sense, since The Zoo Story made the young playwright very famous. Although he has had a long and enviably distinguished run as a playwright, Albee’s high standing in the American theater reached a lasting plateau just three years after The Zoo Story, with the premiere of his first three-act drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Nothing he or anybody else has written since has become so quickly and irrevocably a classic.

In 2009, anyway, Albee abruptly turned The Zoo Story into a two-act play, with a new first act, a prequel called Homelife, which shows one of the characters of the early one-act at home with his wife before he sets out for the zoo. Together, they form a new play called Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo. On top of this literary bombshell, Albee then announced that he would no longer permit The Zoo Story to be produced by professional theater companies, only by nonprofessional and college theaters. When questioned about the change, Albee replied that it was still his play and he could do as he wished with it. (“Art,” he once said to me, “is how we turn the facts into the truth.”) Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo was first produced by American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in June 2009.

Admission to At Home at the Zoo is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors (55+) and students. Click here to purchase tickets or for more information, or call the Santa Paula Theater Center at 805.525.4645.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >