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• Edward Albee, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century with plays such as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "A Delicate Balance" to his name, not to mention three Pulitzer Prizes, passed away last Friday after a short illness. He was 88.

The New York Times noted in its obituary that in his work, Albee "has unsparingly considered subjects outside the average theatergoer’s comfort zone: the capacity for sadism and violence within American society; the fluidness of human identity; the dangerous irrationality of sexual attraction and, always, the irrefutable presence of death.” And, it said, Albee focused not on reassuring audiences but challenging them, forcing them to consider emotions they would prefer to ignore.

• W.P. Kinsella, who waxed poetic about baseball in novels such as "Shoeless Joe" - which was turned into one of the best sports movies ever made, Field of Dreams - died last Friday at age 81. He reportedly had what was called a "doctor-assisted death" in Hope, British Columbia; no details were provided about his illness.
KC's View:
Two brief notes about these gentlemen.

Regarding Kinsella's passing, I can only say that if there is a heaven (other than Iowa), its doors ought to be thrown open for the guy who made Field of Dreams possible - a magical film that never fails to bring me to tears in its final minutes. (The book is pretty good, too ... though I must confess that this is one of those cases where I think the movie actually is better than the book.)

As for Albee ... I once played the lead in "A Delicate Balance." I was in college, probably about 21, and was in no way equipped to act in a play so deeply cynical and so focused on middle-aged angst and disillusionment.. I was awful, the production was awful, and for those of us who were in the play, it was a shared nightmare. But I was never under the impression that the shortcomings were in the play ... they were only mine. (Which I realized some years later when I saw his "Seascape" on Broadway, and realized what real actors could do with an Albee play.)