This morning, I gasped in shock when I saw the headline in the news box: ‘Playwright Wendy Wasserstein dead at 55'. It was both shocking and not shocking. It was well-known that she had been fighting cancer, but I always figured she'd beat it and write a play about it.
When I was younger, I could not stand Wendy Wasserstein's plays. They were just so girlie and whiney. She was too old to speak to me. I was too hip, avant-garde, and post-feminist for her brand of baby boomer feminism and well-made social commentary.
Before you think me cruel to speak so unkindly of the dead, please let me continue.
As I grew older, Wendy Wasserstein and her female characters didn't really come into my mental orbit except for the occasional review in the New York Times. As she grew older, her female characters and their dramatic dialogues grew more complex. At least, that's what I got from the Times.
Now, fifteen years after I first heard about this play called The Heidi Chronicles, I'm gonna stand up and clap for Wendy Wasserstein. She was a playwright of her times. She wrote of her times and claimed time as her own. She took time and held it in the palm of her hand for all to see. That's really all a playwright does. She did her job.
Many years ago, when I was ranting about Wasserstein, my mentor said something I've never forgotten. He said, ‘Jen, don't worry about it, you want to run out into the surf. Wasserstein is content to skip along the beach and collect sea shells.'
What I've learned in fifteen years is that you can collect some beautiful sea shells.