Edward Albee Festival
Tracy Letts and AMy Morton Modern Theater's Power Couple
Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? stars one of theater’s most dynamic onstage couples: Tracy Letts and Amy Morton. So what makes these two the “it” couple of modern American theater?
Letts and Morton have been working together for nearly two decades, roughly as long as Albee’s George and Martha have been married. They both are members of the Chicago-based Steppenwolf ensemble. He has been an ensemble member at Steppenwolf for almost 10 years and has been in more than 20 productions; she has been a member since 1997 and performed in 35 Steppenwolf productions. Morton is an accomplished director as well as an actor, and Letts has several playwriting credits to his name, including the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning August: Osage County. They’ve worked together on 11 Steppenwolf productions and several more with other companies; Morton was the original Barbara in August: Osage County, (Chicago, New York and London productions), and she’s also directed Letts as an actor many times. In addition, they have acted together as a married couple several times before, in plays such as Betrayal and The Well Appointed Room. “The advantage to working at Steppenwolf,” said Letts in an interview with Steppenwolf’s publication Watch and Listen, “is that you not only get to work with great people but you get to work with them over and over again. … You establish a certain shorthand with the person and, as a result, get to the heart of the matter a little quicker.”
Already well acquainted with Albee’s work (Morton has directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Letts has previously played the role of George), the couple’s familiarity with Albee — and his familiarity with them — was key to securing Albee’s permission for Steppenwolf to do the play, the first Albee play ever to be produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Albee reserves the right to approve or deny the companies, directors and even actors attached to professional productions of his plays. Albee admitted in a recent interview that he is “very pleased with the quality of the work” he’s seen from Letts, Morton, and director Pam MacKinnon. Fans of Letts and Morton are surely not surprised as they embark on their most explosive collaboration to date as Virginia Woolf’s infamous George and Martha, joining the likes of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, George Gizzard and Uta Hagan, and other renowned actors in the Virginia Woolf legacy.
Extras & Insights is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities and by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.