Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Me, Myself & I By Edward Albee

“28 or so, good looking, long hair, probably”, antagonist
“OTTO’s identical twin,
“60, plain, ample”, crazy?, can’t tell OTTO/ otto apart
“60, short, stocky”, psychologist
“25, pretty etc.”, cant tell OTTO/otto apart
The Man/Father
“60, older version of the Ottos”, only appears only in the last act and says three sentences.

“no naturalistic enclosures”

-      Finding identity. Neither Mother nor Maureen can tell OTTO and otto apart. Mother named them both Otto because they were identical. OTTO finds his true twin in a mirror reflection and names the reflection Otto.
-      Sanity versus insanity.
-      Escapism. OTTO just wants to get away and start over.
-      Family structure. Absent father; the sons hate the Dr. OTTO hates Mother for who she is; however, otto loves Mother.
-      Love/hate/forgiveness

OTTO wants to purposely mess with his family. He goes to Mother (while she is still in bed with Dr.) and tells her that he hates the life she’s living, hates the fact that she’s with Dr and that he is becoming Chinese. He also tells her and Dr. that his twin brother no longer exists to him and he found a replacement twin. Through OTTO’s rant, Mother tells the Otto’s childhood story, and the Dr. tries to critically analyze their problems. Soft otto enters to tell Mother about his girlfriend; however, this bliss is crashed when Mother relays to him OTTO’s messages. Devastated, otto tries to seek comfort in Maureen.

Maureen seeks out Mother, who she has yet to meet. This first meeting goes sour because of Mother’s inability to prioritize the conversation.  OTTO tricks Maureen into believing that he is otto and they have sex. Otto, seeing OTTO and Maureen together in this way calls a family meeting. Maureen is devastated.

At the family meeting, otto brings attention to all the problems OTTO has caused. OTTO explains that his replacement twin is his reflection in the mirror that he named Otto (in italics). OTTO and otto talk things out.

On OTTO’s request to stir up the norm, Father arrives in his chariot and sacks of emeralds- just as OTTO told Mother he would, in scene 1.  Mother starts yelling at him for leaving 28 years ago and not being in her life anymore. Father says nothing and leaves again.

The play ends with a conclusion by OTTO and otto.

“I want to make trouble, because I want to make things even more complicated than they are around here, and then maybe I can get our of this whole mess- this family and everything” I. Pre-Scene.
“Maybe everything would have been easier- the whole journey; not just what is going on now-maybe everything would have been easier if you hadn’t named them both Otto. (Out) She named them both Otto” I.i
“He said to me once he’d never do anything like that, date an identical, that it was hard enough knowing who he was. ‘We’re special,’ he said. ‘Of course we’re special,’ I said, ‘we’re twins.’ ‘Identical,’ he said, ‘and don’t forget that. We’re very, very special. Identical is more special than anything in the world.’ I.i
“For the longest time, when I would go there, when I looked I saw me standing there, and I thought It was a mirror image I saw. But I’d never dare to try to touch me, for fear…
Dr: For fear?
OTTO: (Pause, to Dr.) What? (Pause) For fear I didn’t exist. I suppose. Me and the mirror: neither one of us. (General again) But then finally! I realized it wasn’t my image I saw there; it was someone else. It was me identically; it was my real identical twin.
Otto (desperate): It wasn’t me there!
OTTO: No, it wasn’t you there. This was the real me. This was me-identically… This was my brother. My identical brother. I had my real brother—at last. ”
“I just thought that if I behaved bad enough you all wouldn’t mind my going away so much. I just had to get away. I couldn’t take it anymore—Ma and all. I just had to get out!” Conclusion

Their own Mother, after 28 years, still can’t tell the Ottos apart. She only knows that one of them loves her and the other does not. No wonder there is so much hostility in the family.

The audience is recognized and talked to. The characters know that they are doing a play. Once the reader gets used to all the asides and direct addresses- it makes it easier to read.

“Albee can be classified with theatrical experimenters whose work jumped the boundaries of American drama. His style embraces existentialism, abusurdism as well as the metaphysical. His plays tend to puzzle. While not easy "night out" fare they are also full of satirically witty and sharp dialogue. The Albee audience consists of those who value being challenged and appreciate theater that, if it existed, would fit into the School of Anti-Complacency. His failures at the box office are as well known as his critical successes. As described by the playwright himself his plays are" an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, and emasculation and vacuity, a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachy-keen."


March 12, 1928

Year Written:

Born Edward Harvey. His adoptive father was the part owner of the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit. After graduating from Trinity College, Albee went to write for WNYC. Not until he met Thornton Wilder did Albee start writing plays. His partner, Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor, died in 2005

Member of the Dramatists Guild Council; President of the Edward F. Albee Foundation; 1980 Gold Medal Recipient in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; 1996 Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Recipient; 2005 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement Recipient.

“I am convinced of this: Any play that can be fully comprehended in one viewing or one reading—there’s something seriously wrong with it. Can you look at a painting once, and get it? Can you listen to a string quartet once, and get it?...I like plays that say, ‘It’s going to be dangerous out—but go anyway….Any question that you can answer is not as interesting as a question you can’t answer.”- Albee in Interview by Will Eno. American Theater Magazine December 2010 issue
That's what happens in plays, yes? The shit hits the fan."
“Creativity is magic. Don't examine it too closely.”
"Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly."
"All serious art is being destroyed by commerce. Most people don't want to art to be disturbing. They want it to be escapist. I don't think art should be escapist. That's a waste of time."

Other Work:
The Zoo Story
The Death of Bessie Smith
The Sandbox
The American Dream
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?- Tony Award
Tiny Alice
A Delicate Balance- Pulitzer Prize (1966), Tony Award (1996)
All Over
Seascape –Pulitzer Prize (1974)
Counting the Ways
The Lady from Dubuque
The Man Who Had Three Arms
Finding the Sun
Marriage Play
Three Tall Women- Pulitzer Prize (1991)
The Play about the Baby
The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?- Tony Award (2002)
At Home at the Zoo (Homelife/The Zoo Story)
Stretching My Mind: Essays 1960-2005
Me, Myself & I
At Home At The Zoo

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