Half King reading series : Cocktails with George and Martha

Feb 27, 2024 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
skylight gallery
Half King Reading Series
Open to the public
Eventbrite RSVP required
FREE to attend
Cocktails with George and Martha.

About the Event

From its debut in 1962, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was a wild success and a cultural lightning rod. The play transpires over one long, boozy night, laying bare the lies, compromises, and scalding love that have sustained a middle-aged couple. It scandalized critics but magnetized audiences.

Across 644 sold-out Broadway performances, the drama demolished the wall between what could and couldn’t be said on the American stage and marked a definitive end to the “I Love Lucy” 1950s.

Then, Hollywood took a colossal gamble on Albee’s sophisticated play—and won. Costarring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the sensational 1966 film minted first-time director Mike Nichols as industry royalty and won five Oscars.

How this scorching play became a movie classic—surviving censorship attempts, its creators’ inexperience, and its stars’ own tumultuous marriage—is one of the most riveting stories in all of cinema.

Now, acclaimed author Philip Gefter tells that story in full for the first time, tracing Woolf from its hushed origins in Greenwich Village’s gay enclave, through its tormented production process, to its explosion onto screens across America and a permanent place in the canon of cinematic marriages. This deliciously entertaining book explores how two couples—one fictional, one all too real—forced a nation to confront its most deeply held myths about relationships, sex, family, and, against all odds, love.

About the Author

Profile photo of Philip Gefter.Philip Gefter is the author of What Becomes a Legend Most: The Biography of Richard AvedonWagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe, winner of the 2014 Marfield Prize for arts writing; and an essay collection, Photography After Frank. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker: Photobooth, Aperture, and the New York Times, where he was an editor and photography critic for over 15 years. He also produced the award-winning documentary Bill Cunningham New York. He lives in New York City.

About the Series

What was once one of the most vital literary hubs in the city, The Half King Reading Series, has a new home at the Salmagundi Club. At monthly events, authors of new works will discuss their books in a warm, welcoming, and informed setting. Selections are predominantly, but not exclusively, non-fiction, current events, biography, autobiography, novels and memoir.


Salmagundi members are welcome to have dinner beforehand in our dining room. Dining reservations can be made via our Reservations page.

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