Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung

A theatre without characters, Box is a highly abstract monologue. It begins with the sound of an invisible woman’s voice that comes from the back and sides of the auditorium as the audience looks into the interior of the outline of a large cube. The voice speaks of a “box” as a place to formulate inner reflections, dwelling slowly into a cadence of elegy and regret on the deterioration of the arts and society and universal disaster.

Then in Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung, a separate, but related play, the lights come up to reveal the outline of an ocean liner, two figures in deck chairs: a wealthy woman of sixty and an aged minister. The lady unfolds a convoluted autobiographical narrative about her husband’s death, her unhappy relationship with her daughter, an accident she witnessed, and her own attempted suicide.

In an introduction to a collection of plays, Albee noted his preference to feature the two plays together. “Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung are separate plays and are one play at the same time. Box was written first; then Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung occurred. Each has its own identity and can be performed without the other. However, it seemed to me that combining the two (as they are printed here) more than doubled the experience of the two separately.”

Albee, Edward. Introduction. The Collected Plays of Edward Albee. Vol. 2. New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2005. 8.

Type: Short Play

Acts: One (both plays)

First Performance: 6 March 1968, Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo; 30 September 1968, Billy Rose Theatre, New York

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