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Playwright Albee to Be Honored at Commencement

Tony, Pulitzer winner will receive Doctor of Letters

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Playwright Edward Albee is among BU’s five 2010 honorary degree recipients.

Playwright Edward Albee, best known for his searing drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters at Boston University’s 137th Commencement, on May 16, 2010.

Albee, 83, has received three Pulitzer Prizes for drama, for A Delicate Balance in 1967, Seascape in 1975, and Three Tall Women in 1994. His first major work, which premiered in Berlin in 1959, was The Zoo Story, a riveting one-act play set on a park bench, in which an upstanding family man meets up with a drifter who stirs him to violence. In off-Broadway incarnations, successive one-acts such as The Sandbox and The American Dream brought theater of the absurd to the American stage.

Albee is the author of 25 plays. His first Broadway production, the Tony Award-winning Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was — and remains — a stupendous success, continuing to fill theaters in revivals from community theater to the 2004-2005 all-star Broadway production that won a Tony for actor Bill Irwin, portraying George to Kathleen Turner’s Martha. Set in a New England college town, the play mesmerizes as the weary, cynical middle-aged George and Martha snipe and snarl at each other and spill their bleak secrets in the presence of the unsuspecting young couple who are their guests.

A recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1996, Albee was awarded the National Medal of Arts the same year. In 2005 the American Theater Wing presented him with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. His Edward F. Albee Foundation runs an artists and writers colony, the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center, in Montauk, N.Y.

Edward Albee is one of five honorary degree recipients at this year’s Commencement. Osamu Shimomura, a Nobel Prize winning chemist and School of Medicine professor emeritus of physiology, will be awarded a Doctor of Science. Attorney William T. Coleman, Jr., a champion of civil rights, will receive a Doctor of Laws. Wafaa El-Sadr, pioneering AIDS researcher, will be presented with a Doctor of Science. Commencement speaker Eric H. Holder, Jr., attorney general of the United States, will receive a Doctor of Laws. Check back this week on BU Today for more about the honorary degree recipients.

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

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