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College to commemorate 50th anniversary of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

The Department of Psychology, Psi Chi National Psychology Honor Society and the Residential Education Fellows Program will sponsor "Truth & Illusion: Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'" - a four-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of Edward Albee's controversial play. Set on a small New England college campus, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" depicts the drunken verbal combat of history professor George and his wife, Martha, who is the daughter of the college president. A new faculty member, Nick, and his wife, Honey, are caught in the crossfire. The play's shocking final revelation has mystified audiences for half a century. In 1963, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" won the Tony Award and Drama Critics Circle Award for best play and it was selected to receive the Pulitzer Prize that year as well. But the advisory committee objected to the play's frank sexuality and rough language and chose not to give a drama award in 1963. The Mike Nichols 1966 film adaptation, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis, won five Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Taylor and Best Supporting Actress for Dennis, and was the first major motion picture marketed for adults only. As part of "Truth & Illusion" events, the film will be screened on three consecutive nights and each screening will be hosted by a different professor with a different perspective on the film. Associate Professor of Philosophy Kristin Pfefferkorn will host the first screening on Sunday, Dec. 2; Associate Professor of Psychology Jason Nier will host the second screening on Monday, Dec. 3; and Assistant Professor of Film Studies Ross Morin will host the final screening on Tuesday, Dec. 4. All screenings take place at 7 p.m. in Silfen Auditorium in Bill Hall and will feature free soda and popcorn. The celebrations will culminate on Wednesday, Dec. 5, with a panel discussion featuring Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater Nancy Hoffman; Associate Professor of Theater David Jaffe; Jefferson Singer, the Faulk Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology; and Stuart Vyse, the Joanne Toor Cummings '50 Professor of Psychology. They'll be joined by Anne Morgan, literary manager of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, to discuss the lasting appeal of this play, its history and future as a work of art. The discussion is at 8 p.m. in the 1941 Room of the College Center at Crozier-Williams. "For half a century, this compelling, deeply psychological drama has shocked and challenged audiences," said Vyse. "We hope to introduce 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' to a new generation of viewers and to inspire a new appreciation in those who are already familiar with the play." For more information, contact Stuart Vyse at

November 29, 2012