The Zoo Story by Edward Albee
Recommended by Laurence C, Rowena M, Karen B
I had the pleasure of watching a rather exceptional student perform “The Story of Jerry and His Dog”earlier in the year and I have to say I was blown away by his skill. I didn’t realise at the time that the piece was from The Zoo Story. I’ve taught Absurdism before (for teaching suggestions check this post out) but I’ve always taught Waiting for Godot rather than The Zoo Story. It was nice to finally give myself some time to sit down and read the entire play.
It’s short and captures Absurdism beautifully (which I get and totally love). Jerry is truly the focus of the play as he is the one with the most dialogue and who drives the story. He needs to play off Peter however so Peter’s role is vitally important, particularly towards the end. So not only is The Zoo Story brilliant for a male student looking to present a monologue but also as a text to study in a unit on The Theatre of the Absurd. You could also use parts of it for short scene work when looking at the elements of drama and also direction and staging. Not a lot of specifics were given as to where Jerry should move around the stage so it would be interesting to see how student’s interpret particular moments.
I really connected with Jerry. I fell in love with his desire to simply want to have someone to talk to. He seemed geeky, a little annoying but I could see that he just wanted to chat. His retelling of the incident with the dog is beautiful and his interactions with Peter made me wish that all conversations could be like that sometimes. This is why the ending of The Zoo Story is so shocking and very unexpected. I can’t say I’ve ever had a play move me to tears but this one came pretty damn close.
I think Absurdism would have to be one of my most favoured theatrical styles. Absolutely brilliant.
You Tube has a stack of clips from both The Zoo Story & “The Story of Jerry and the Dog.” I didn’t want to pick one in particular (because I so enjoyed the student’s performance that I saw) so simply search either The Zoo Story, The Story of Jerry and the Dog or The Zoo Story Monologue and something should pop up.
If you like Absurdism too Sydney Theatre Company will be presenting Waiting for Godot next year featuring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh.