The American Dream, The Death of Bessie Smith, Fam and Yam

The American Dream, The Death of Bessie Smith, Fam and Yam

by Edward Albee




THE AMERICAN DREAM. Mommy and Daddy sit in a barren living room making small talk. Mommy, the domineering wife, is grappling with the thought of putting Grandma in a nursing home. Daddy, the long-suffering husband, could not care less. Grandma appears, lugging boxes of belongings, which she stacks by the door. Mommy and Daddy can't imagine what's in those boxes, but Grandma is well aware of Mommy's possible intentions. Mrs. Barker, the chairman of the women's club, arrives, not knowing why she is there. Is she there to take Grandma away? Apparently not. It all becomes evident when Grandma reveals to Mrs. Barker the story of the botched adoption of a "bumble of joy" twenty years ago by Mommy and Daddy. Mrs. Barker appears to have figured it out when Young Man enters. He's muscular, well-spoken, the answer to Mommy and Daddy's prayers: The American Dream. Grandma convinces him to assist in her master plan. She puts one over on everybody and escapes the absurdly realistic world which she finds so predictable. (2 men, 3 women.) THE DEATH OF BESSIE SMITH. Memphis, Tennessee, 1937, a time when the South's aristocracy is crumbling amidst the deeply racist views of its citizens. At a white hospital a Nurse belittles a black Orderly, a polite young man eager to improve himself, and is severely condescending to an Intern, a white man, who is seemingly in love with her. When the Intern finally turns on her she vows to retaliate by ruining his career. The conflict comes to a head when a blood-spattered black man, a car accident victim, stumbles in pleading to get help for his woman friend who is in his wrecked car. The Nurse orders him out, but the Intern convinces the Orderly to go with him toinvestigate. The Nurse is furious. When they return the Intern announces, in a helpless fury, that the woman is dead. The driver reveals that his woman friend was the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. The Nurse admits she had heard of Bessie, but it seems her anger at the futile rescue by the Intern is the only emotion she feels. (5 men, 2 women.) FAM AND YAM. YAM (the young American playwright) has requested an interview with FAM (the famous American playwright). The interview begins as YAM clucks appreciatively over all the evidences of FAM's success—the paintings, the view, the luxury of his apartment. FAM endeavors to bring the conversation back to the subject at hand, the article for which YAM is gathering material. YAM responds—with a vengeance. As FAM swallows one glass of sherry after another, YAM proceeds to mount a vitriolic attack on the insidious commerciality of the Broadway theatre. FAM is enormously amused and fails to realize words are being put in his mouth. The interview ends, and YAM thanks his host for the "interview" which he intends to use as the basis for his article. FAM is struck—too late—by the realization of the trap into which his fatuousness has allowed him to be led. He turns ashen as his paintings frown, reel, tilt and crash down around him. (2 men.)"

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822200307
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/1962

About the Author

American dramatist Edward Albee was born in 1928. Three of his plays— A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women— received Pulitzer Prizes, and his most famous, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, was adapted to a movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. His other plays include The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Sandbox, The American Dream, Tiny Alice, All Over, Listening, The Lady from Dubuque, The Man Who Had Three Arms, Finding the Sun, Fragments, Marriage Play, The Lorca Play and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? He died in 2016.

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