Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Heidi Sheds a Tear

We're all concerned, intelligent, good women. It's just that I feel stranded. And I thought the whole point was that we wouldn't feel stranded. I thought the point was that we were all in this together. The Heidi Chronicles

Wendy Wasserstein passed away yesterday, and I'm very sad. She was an extraordinary writer who wrote about so much more than "women's issues." She brilliantly found the point--the one under a surface that so many people can't get beyond.

The Heidi Chronicles was the first play of hers that I read, and even though technically I am not of the generation it is aimed at, I got it. I not only got it, I empathized with it. She made me understand how the events in Heidi's life had created who she was, and how important the feminist movement was and how it had failed some of its most ardent supporters. It's not that we aren't still feminists, or that we don't still want respect and support for who we are and what we do, not because of the what sex we are, but what happened to the support? Why can't women work together and be supportive of each other? Why must it come down to "that's the choice you made so now you have to live with it." How easy it is to distance ourselves from having to care for someone else by making a judgement on their life choices.

Heidi chooses a career and to remain single. In the end of the play, she has a baby. I loved the ending of this play. Was Wasserstein saying that after all the feminist rhetoric, the only true happiness for a woman is to have a child? I don't think so, but some will argue that. I think she was showing that there are many aspects to happiness. It's not a black and white world where you either choose a single/childless/working life or a married/children/homemaker life.

Her other plays are just as complicated and wonderful. The Sisters Rosensweig, An American Daughter, Third are just a few of her plays. Even though it wasn't one of her most popular plays, I loved And American Daughter. About a woman who is about to receive an appointment by the president when something relatively insignificant is dug up by the opposing party and will be used to stop it, the play is poignant and applicable in our current political atmosphere.

I'm behind in my Wasserstein reading. I think it's time I caught up. She's published a book of essays, and a novel is coming out soon. She also wrote The Object of My Affection, which explains why it is the only Jennifer Aniston movie I am even remotely interested in seeing.

Her deft hand, her piercing eyes, her honest words. She'll be missed. Broadway dimmed their lights tonight for her. And I think I'll do the same.

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