GRANDMA in ‘The American Dream’

GRANDMA in The American Dream
by Ana Valdes-Lim

Ana Valdes-Lim as GRANDMA in Edward Albee’s The American Dream

(日本語は英語に続く) Edward Albee’s play The American Dream was written in 1960. It is an allegory—a tale with hidden meaning. It is absurdist, non-realistic, and non-sequential. Nothing in the play can be known for certain, and it is sometimes Brechtian in style. It is replete with exaggerated movement and the breaking of character to signal to the audience the theatricality of the story.

Edward Albee wrote the character of GRANDMA to embody the old American dream. Through GRANDMA, he explores the perceived values of 1800s America: agrarian, rural, pioneer stock, hard-working, industrial, resilient, practical, ingenious, and dignified. GRANDMA addresses the audience directly in the voice of the author. She is refreshing, candid, witty, humorous, appealing, honest, and empathic. Her character has clarity, joy, playfulness, and creativity.

Albee juxtaposes GRANDMA and the old values she represents with the new values embodied by YOUNG MAN:  Hollywood-sexy, materialistic, lacking in substance, lacking in values, shallow and superficial, “in every other way…incomplete.” GRANDMA, conversely, is in decline and decrepit. She lives in a home where she is ridiculed and neglected by MOMMY, an outwardly attractive but artificial, shallow, and manipulative character. MOMMY too is lacking in substance, and as GRANDMA puts it, “you don’t really have the quality…content.” DADDY, who is emasculated, weak, and insecure, completes the family unit.

YOUNG MAN is physically stunning and yet “incomplete”, lacking in inner substance, and seeks only money. When asked who the YOUNG MAN is, GRANDMA screams, “The American Dream, damn it!” But MOMMY doesn’t quite seem to understand GRANDMA’s yammering. MOMMY’s ignorance speaks for all of us, as we too seem perplexed by the image and the idea of The American Dream.

GRANDMA recognizes that the YOUNG MAN’s arrival is fortuitous and that it can solve her dilemma of MOMMY and DADDY, but it would require her immediate departure because there isn’t enough room in the house. Her solution to the complex plot shows that resourcefulness still has value. Through GRANDMA’s departure, Albee communicates directly with the audience, with wit and candor, that the play and The American Dream, “…is a comedy.”


  1. Research
  3. OpenAI
  5. Allegory in Edward Albee’s The American Dream:  by Ervin Beck, Professor of English
    Goshen College

Ana Valdes-Lim as GRANDMA in Edward Albee’s The American Dream

エドワード オールビーの戯曲「アメリカンドリーム」が描かれたのは1960年である。





— 有馬ちふ美 翻訳

GRANDMA by Geof Griggs

Photography courtesy of Geoffrey Griggs Photography.

Edward Albee Showcase

Edward Albee Showcase
April 15-16
13:00 & 18:00
Sasashima Studio