1967 – “The American Dream” and “The Death of Bessie Smith” by Edward Albee

Posted on: June 11, 1967

The American Dream
For Albee The American Dream (premiering in 1961) “is an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, emasculation and vacuity; it is a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachykeen”.
The American Dream, who appears in the shared household of a sadistic Mommy, emasculated Daddy, and embittered Grandma, is personified by the Young Man, a clean-cut Midwestern beauty, physically perfect but incomplete, having lost all feeling and desire after the murder of an identical twin from which he was separated as a child.

The Death of Bessie Smith
The play, written in 1959, seeks to interpret the somewhat hazy details of blues singer Bessie Smith’s fatal car accident on September 26, 1937, in the state of Tennessee. The facts of her end, the automobile accident outside Memphis and the refusal of hospitals for whites to admit her, serves as the point of departure for Albee’s play. Bessie was taen directly to the Afro-American Hospital in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where she died some seven hours later. Bessie never comes on stage, presumably because her death is meant to be a symbol for the whole problem of White supremacy, which Albee has chosen to view through the eyes of a white Southern nurse and her intern boyfriend in order to expose their prejudice and bigotry. Albee “is not concerned only with Bessie’s tragedy; he uses it to reveal the tragedy of an environment that allows such things to happen”. (Howard Taubmann)

Cast - The American Dream

MommySusanne Stuppäck
DaddyWolfgang Morisse
Mrs. BarkerAnita Strebl
Young ManGernot Pflüger
GrandmaIlse Lackenbauer
Directed byCarys Jones

Cast - The Death of Bessie Smith

BernieGottfried R. Schneider
JackHans Wolf
NurseSusanne Schaup
FatherGerhardt Stürzlinger
OrderlyKlaus Zelewitz
Second NurseMonika Aigner
InternMario Sarcletti
Directed byIlltyd Perkins


LightsHelfried Nirschl
Kurt Krammer
SoundHans Stiegler
Set and Stage DesignRobert Miller
PropsFelix Lackner
Make-UpGottfried R. Schneider
CostumesEdda Lukas
Ticket Sales and Programme DesignJorica Perkins
Susanne Schaup
Bernard Brown
Wolfgang Neckam
Karin Lunzer
Illtyd Perkins

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