They’re Not Afraid Of Virginia Woolf
Kauai Community Players take on what is regarded as one of the best plays ever written, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opening Friday evening and running for three weekends
Kauai Community Players opens its final show of the season Friday (May 8). The drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was written by Edward Albee, one of America’s most celebrated playwrights.
“I think this is probably one of the greatest plays ever written, and I don’t say that lightly,” says Cass Foster, director of the local production. “It’s a brilliant script — it’s well-written and well-crafted. The four characters are sensational.”
The complex play is about a dysfunctional marriage and offers such an incredible amount of depth that it took the cast four months (as opposed to the typical two) to rehearse.
“My charge is to bring his (Albee’s) vision to the stage, not my vision,” Foster points out. “And I have been blessed with a superb cast who not only know their craft, but have engaged in weeks of research and table talk to understand Albee.”
Foster is honored that KCP’s board members agreed to let him direct this particular show.
“It was real risky for them to approve it,” admits Foster about the controversial plot line that includes a decent amount of booze and adult language.
But it adds to the diversity of shows KCP produces and presents to audiences, giving them something different to enjoy for entertainment. The story provides not only dramatic dialogue between husband and wife, but comedic and absurd moments, as well.
“There’s really a wonderful blend of the three,” says Foster.
He gives his actors — Morgan Liddle, Nellie Foster, Alexandria Taogoshi and Bailey Hutton — plenty of credit for their commitment to explore such expansive characters and their willingness to volunteer so much of their time doing so. They’ve been working hard, meeting three to four times a week for the past few months.
“It’s a significant sacrifice to them,” says Foster. “I give them an immense amount of credit. I’m just really grateful to have four actors with this level of commitment.”
Foster also has devoted ample time and energy to directing the show to do it proper justice. Of course, this isn’t the first time he’s done so. Foster is a seasoned theatre professional and has directed or produced hundreds of shows.
“I’ve had a really significant career. I’ve been very fortunate,” he says.
The acting bug first bit him when he was only 8 years old and played Santa Claus in a school production, even though he declares that he was a “tall, skinny young boy.” The Indiana native acted in high school and credits it as being one of the reasons he graduated.
“It was the one thing I enjoyed,” he says.
He didn’t get serious about it until he attended college, when he decided to study theatre at the university level. He recalls taking an acting class “for fun” during his first semester, when his initial intention was to become a physician.
“That was it. I took that darn acting class and it just hit me. I totally changed direction,” he says.
Foster earned a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from University of Washington in Seattle and a Master of Fine Arts in directing from University of Illinois. He went on to become a theatre professor at institutes including Ohio State University, where he met wife Nellie (who plays Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and at Central Arizona College. He also is a Shakespeare aficionado and has written books including The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare. He moved to Kauai from Arizona seven years ago and is happy to finally be directing a show he “never quite felt ready to produce” before.
“Cass’ belief in the play and his extensive experience are the reason we selected it for our season,” says Dottie Bekeart, KCP board member, who is excited to see the show on stage at the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse.
“I was a young adult when the movie swept the Oscars (with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) and shocked the world. I was awed by the acting, but also was confused by the darkness of it,” recalls Bekeart. “Now, with a deeper understanding of what love is and what can happen in a marriage, it means much more to me.”
Foster is certain audience members like Bekeart will be delightfully surprised at the “spectacular talent” on stage in the upcoming local production.
“And I mean that wholeheartedly,” he says. “There’s a lot of talent on the island, and I see it all the time in all the shows that I attend. This is another example of that.”
The play is recommended for adults only and performances are set for the next three weekends, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. at Puhi Theatrical Playhouse. Visit kauaicommunityplayers.org/whos-afraid-of-virginia-woolf to purchase tickets or for more information.