Letts spent only one day at a table-read answering questions from the cast but called them “gifted and experienced people” and trusts his baby with director John Wells.
“As he said to me, `You’ve already got the awards on your shelf. The play’s out in the world. If this thing is screwed up, it’s me they’re going to look at,’” Letts recalls. “I give him nothing but love and support and encouragement _ and I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad I’m not there.”
In the Albee work, Letts is in a familiar place _ starring opposite Amy Morton, who plays his wife, Martha. Letts and Morton have played a couple at least eight times and he says “you can’t buy” that kind of history.
This production is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landmark play’s arrival on Broadway, and Albee himself stopped by to check out the actors before the team came to New York.
“It’s pretty nerve-racking to be delivering those lines a few feet away in a well-lit rehearsal room from the guy who wrote them 50 years ago,” says Letts, who refers to Albee at all times with the honorific title “Mr.”
“But I know myself as a playwright that you understand that sense of dread on the part of the actors and you always want to say, `It’s OK. We’re all in the same business. It’s OK.’”
As for the future, a new play looms. Although he usually writes quickly, his next one is taking its time. And that’s fine.
“I keep referring to it as `The Play That No One’s Going to Like,’” he says with a big laugh. “I think that’s one way I continue to take pressure off myself.”
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