At Home at the Zoo: Homelife and the Zoo Story
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'I've been to the zoo.' These opening words usher the audience into one of the most iconic plays in American theatre history: The Zoo Story.
More than fifty years later, master playwright Edward Albee (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?) wrote a prequel to his classic. Home Life contains the events in Peter's life immediately preceding his encounter with Jerry on the park bench and is every bit as powerful as the original. We meet Ann, Peter's wife, and see the conversation that compelled Peter to go for that fateful walk in the park.
For the first time collected in one volume, Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo is a must for any theatre lover.
heart-shatteringly anxious to confront my friend again. (PETER reacts scoffingly.) Yes, Peter; friend. That’s the only word for it. I was heart-shatteringly et cetera to confront my doggy friend again. I came in the door and advanced, unafraid, to the center of the entrance hall. The beast was there … looking at me. And, you know, he looked better for his scrape with the nevermind. I stopped; I looked at him; he looked at me. I think … I think we stayed a long time that way … still,
a cockroach, with a mirror … no, that’s too hard, that’s one of the last steps. With a cockroach, with a … with a … with a carpet, a roll of toilet paper … no, not that, either … that’s a mirror, too; always check bleeding. You see how hard it is to find things? With a street corner … with a wisp of smoke, a wisp … of smoke … with … with pornographic playing cards, with a strongbox … WITHOUT A LOCK … with love, with vomiting, with crying, with fury because the pretty little ladies aren’t pretty
people too. It probably wasn’t a fair test, what with everyone separated by bars from everyone else, the animals for the most part from each other, and always the people from the animals. But, if it’s a zoo, that’s the way it is. (He pokes PETER on the arm.) Move over. PETER (Friendly.) I’m sorry, haven’t you enough room? (He shifts a little.) JERRY (Smiling slightly.) Well, all the animals are there, and all the people are there, and it’s Sunday, and all the children are there. (He pokes
you pick up that knife, and you fight with me. You fight for your self-respect; you fight for that goddamned bench. PETER (Struggling.) No! Let … go of me! He … Help! JERRY (Slaps PETER on each “fight.”) You fight, you miserable bastard; fight for that bench; fight for your manhood, you pathetic little vegetable. (Spits in PETER’s face.) You couldn’t even get your wife with a male child. PETER (Breaks away, enraged.) It’s a matter of genetics, not manhood, you … you monster. (He darts
too. Or—worse—that maybe you’re not, that maybe none of it’s ever occurred to you—that you … don’t have it in you? PETER (Long silence.) Well. ANN You did ask. PETER Yes, I did. ANN Which is it? PETER Pardon? ANN (Harder.) … that you don’t have it in you! PETER (Quiet supplication.) Be kind. ANN No! No! Do you? Do you have it in you? PETER (Engaged, but rational.) I thought we both made a decision—when we decided to be together, or even before we knew each other—I thought we