The American Dream & The Sandbox & The Death of Bessie Smith & Fam and Yam

The American Dream & The Sandbox & The Death of Bessie Smith & Fam and Yam $13

Edward Albee

Published by Dramatists Play Service

The American Dream

Mommy and Daddy sit in a barren living room making small talk

Mommy, the domineering wife, is grappling with the thought of putting Grandma in a nursing home

Daddy, the long-suffering husband, could not care less

Grandma appears, lugging boxes of belongings, which she stacks by the door

Mommy and Daddy can't imagine what's in those boxes, but Grandma is well aware of Mommy's possible intentions

Mrs Barker, the chairman of the women's club, arrives, not knowing why she is there - is she there to take Grandma away?

Apparently not

It all becomes evident when Grandma reveals to Mrs Barker the story of the botched adoption of a "bumble of joy" twenty years ago by Mommy and Daddy

Mrs. Barker appears to have figured it out when Young Man enters

He's muscular, well-spoken, the answer to Mommy and Daddy's prayers - The American Dream

Grandma convinces him to assist in her master plan

She puts one over on everybody and escapes the absurdly realistic world which she finds so predictable - M2,F3

The Sandbox

A man in a spotlight, clad in swimming trunks, is doing his exercises silently.

A couple appears to remark, dryly, "Well, here we are; this is the beach"

The woman orders a clarinetist out onto the stage and commands him to play

The couple exits, then returns carrying the woman's eighty-six-year-old mother and dumps her in a sandbox

Grandma begins to weave her history between the cool, indifferent patter of the people and the equally cool, but somehow more sympathetic, sounds from the clarinet

As Grandma covers herself with sand, it begins to dawn that the mysterious, cryptic athlete is much more than local color, and his conversation with Grandma is, in fact, prelude to his purpose

He is "after all, the Angel of Death"

The Death of Bessie Smith

Memphis, Tennessee, 1937 - a time when the South's aristocracy is crumbling amidst the deeply racist views of its citizens

At a white hospital a Nurse belittles a black Orderly, a polite young man eager to improve himself, and is severely condescending to an Intern, a white man, who is seemingly in love with her

When the Intern finally turns on her she vows to retaliate by ruining his career

The conflict comes to a head when a blood-spattered black man, a car accident victim, stumbles in pleading to get help for his woman friend who is in his wrecked car

The Nurse orders him out, but the Intern convinces the Orderly to go with him to investigate

The Nurse is furious and when they return the Intern announces, in a helpless fury, that the woman is dead

The driver reveals that his woman friend was the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith

The Nurse admits she had heard of Bessie, but it seems her anger at the futile rescue by the Intern is the only emotion she feels - M5,F2


Yam (the young American playwright) has requested an interview with FAM (the famous American playwright)

The interview begins as YAM clucks appreciatively over all the evidences of FAM's success - the paintings, the view, the luxury of his apartment

FAM endeavors to bring the conversation back to the subject at hand, the article for which YAM is gathering material

YAM responds - with a vengeance!

As FAM swallows one glass of sherry after another, YAM proceeds to mount a vitriolic attack on the insidious commerciality of the Broadway theatre

FAM is enormously amused and fails to realize words are being put in his mouth

The interview ends, and YAM thanks his host for the "interview" which he intends to use as the basis for his article

FAM is struck - too late - by the realization of the trap into which his fatuousness has allowed him to be led

He turns ashen as his paintings frown, reel, tilt and crash down around him - M2

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