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Wendy Wasserstein

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Alexis Huddleston

on 14 July 2014

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Transcript of Wendy Wasserstein

Wendy Wasserstein
& Second Wave Feminism

Second Wave Feminism
May 9, 1960: FDA approves "The Pill"
Second Wave Feminism
May 9, 1963: Anne Moody participates in Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in
Second Wave Feminism
Began in the 1960s and continued into the '90s
The Heidi Chronicles
Said to be most accomplished work
The Heidi Chronicles
Overall Criticisms
Humor: Very well known, but some felt that it was purposeless at times
Dominant Issues:
Reproductive Rights
Sexuality Rights
Gender Equality in employment, politics, and education
Nov 1, 1961: Women Strike for Peace started by Bella Abzug and Damar Wilson
Dec 14 , 1961: JFK establishes President's Commission on the Status of Women and appoints Eleanor Roosevelt as chair
1962: Sherri Finkbine travels to Sweden for abortion after Thalidamide causes severe fetal defects
1963: Betty Friedan publishes
The Feminine Mystique
June 10, 1963: JFK signs Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law
June 16, 1963: Valentina Tereshkova is first woman in space
1964: LBJ signs Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination due to sex
1965: In Griswold v. Connecticut, Supreme Court strikes down law restricting access to contraceptives for married couples
Second Wave Feminism
The Newark Museum has exhibit "Women Artists of America: 1701-1964"
July 2, 1964: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission begins operating
Dec 1964: Pauli Murray and Mary Eastwood publish "Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII"
1966: NOW is founded
1966: Marlo Thomas stars in "That Girl"
1967: LBJ amends Executive Order 11246 to include sex discrimination
1967: New York Radical Women form
Second Wave Feminism
Aug 1967: The National Welfare Rights Organization forms
1968: Now forms special committee for Equal Rights Amendment campaign
1968: Shirley Chisholm is first African-American woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives
1968: The Women's Equity Action League breaks away from NOW to avoid "controversial issues"
Feb 23, 1968: EEOC rules that being female is not a qualification of being a flight attendent
Second Wave Feminism
Sept 7, 1968: "Miss America Protest"
1969: The Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation begins operating in Chicago as "Jane"
1969: Redstockings begin
Mar 21, 1969: Redstockings stage an abortion speak out
Wendy's Background
Wendy's parents, Lola and Morris were Polish refugees
Lola's father left Poland and arrived in New York in 1927
Lola, her mother, brother, and sister followed in 1928
Her family lived in New Jersey, where her father was the principal of a Hebrew school
Wendy's Background
Lola met George in New York City
George's father left Poland, with George's oldest brother and George's only sister
In 1928, Herman returned to Europe to bring the family
Herman, George, Joseph, Teddy, and 6 year old Morris, along with mother Charlotte left
Charlotte cut her hand and had to be hospitilized in Liverpool
Herman and George stayed with her until she died, and the younger brothers went on to NY
George's father had found a girlfriend, and the brothers soon moved out
Wendy's Background
When George met Lola in the mid-1930s, he was establishing Wasserstein Brothers
On Jan 16, 1937, they were married in Bayonne, NJ
7 months later, on Aug 20, 1937, Sandra was born
3 years later, Abner was born
June 4, 1941, George was taken to Harbor Hospital with severe stomach pain
His appendix ruptured, he developed peritonitis and died on June 12, 1941
2 years later, while Sandra was 6 years old Lola and Morris were married
Wendy's Background
Within a year, Georgette was born
Around age 5, Abner began having seizures
Lola and Morris sought a cure for Abner, even going to CA for an experimental treatment
Bruce was born on Dec 25, 1947
Lola and Morris enrolled Abner at Devereaux School before Wendy was born
Wendy was born October 18, 1950
Before Wendy was 2, Lola was pregnant, but the baby had a hole in its heart and died
Wendy's Early Life
Often taken care of by Sandra, until she left for college in 1953
Sent Wendy to Yeshivah of Flatbush, a prestigious school, where Bruce attended
Found out she was dyslexic
Transferred to Ethical Culture School
In the fall of 1963, at 12 years old, Wendy started Calhoun School
Wendy's Early Life
In the fall of 1966 won an essay-writing contest held by the World Youth Forum
She was still wait-listed
Romance with James Kaplan
Spent summer abroad on World Youth Forum trip
Accepted to Mount Holyoke
Met Abby on trip, who was also going to Mount Holyoke
Requested to room together
Wasserstein Award
Established in 2006 in memory of Wendy by the Education Foundation of America and the Dramatists Guild of America
$25,000 to someone under 32, who had never been produced or had a staged reading, and was not enrolled in a playwright program
In 2010, no eligible candidate could be found
Determined to be mostly due to the age restriction
Flat, passive characterization of the titular role undermines the significance of the play's feminist themes
Implausibility of the ending contradicts its feminist premise
Too dependent on situational humor
Questioned emotional appeal of popular issues: homosexuality, AIDS, and single motherhood
Raises issues but doesn't address significance
By using so many jokes, takes away from thematic gravity
Difficult to focus on seriousness
Received 2 Tony Awards and 4 Nominations
1 Drama Desk Award and 5 Nominations
New York Drama Critics Circle "Best Play" Winner
Mixed reviews, though
Less humor than normal but still comical
Plot follows Heidi Holland from high school in the 1960s to her career as a successful art historian almost 20 years later
Feminist scholars debate the degree of reality reflected
Uncommon Women and Others
Wendy's Later Life
B.A. in History from Mount Holyoke College in 1971
M.A. in Creative Writing from City College in New York
M.F.A. in 1976 from the Yale School of Drama
Her first production was
Uncommon Women and Others
- her thesis at Yale
The play was work-shopped at Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in 1977
Wendy's Later Life
Full version of the play was produced in 1977 off-Broadway
In 1989, she won the Tony Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play, The Heidi Chronicles
Her other plays explore feminism, family, ethnicity, and pop culture, too
Wrote eleven plays
Won a Tony Award
Won a Pulitzer Prize
Won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award
Won a Drama Desk Award
Won an Outer Critics Circle Award
Wrote the libretto for the opera
Best Friends
, based on Clare Booth Luce's play
The Women;
died before finishing
Wendy's Personal Life
Parents allowed her to go to Yale, because they wanted her to meet an eligible lawyer, get married, and be a wife and mother
This brought her to write about independent women, living in a world that is still ingrained with traditional roles and expectations
Wendy's Personal Life
Gave birth to Lucy Jane Wasserstein on Sept 12, 1999, when Wendy was 48 years old
Child's difficult birth was 3 months premature and is recorded in Wendy's collection of essays,
Shiksa Goddess
Was not married and never publicly identified her daughter's father
Wendy's Personal Life
Hospitilized of lymphoma in December of 2005, and died on January 30, 2006, age 55
The news of Wasserstein's death was unexpected, because her illness had not been widely publicized outside the theatre community
The night after she died, Broadway's lights were dimmed in her honor
Wendy's Works
Wrote several plays
2 Hollywood screenplays
Uncommon Women and Others
(1977): Informal reunion of graduates that was filmed and telecast through PBS and starred Glenn Close, Swoosie Kurtz, and Meryl Streep
Tender Offer
The Object of My Affection
(1998), starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd
Wendy's Works
Published several books
Bachelor Girls
Pamela's First Musical
(1999), a children's book,
Shiksa Goddess: Or How I Spent My Forties
(2001), about her daughter's birth,
Elements of Style: A Novel
The Heidi Chronicles
(1988): Opened on Broadway in 1989 after receiving critical acclaim Off Broadway
Predecessor for "Sex and the City"
Sarah Jessica Parker played a series of small roles in
The Heidi Chronicles
Wendy's Works
First woman to win a Tony Award solo
An American Daughter
(1997): The entire play takes place inside a living room in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
Old Money
(2000): A comedy that pokes fun at the American Aristocracy
In 1983, won the William Inge Award for Distinguised Achievement of American Theater
After death, inducted into American Theater Hall of Fame
What is one common theme in both Wendy's life and works ? Give one example.
What is one event in Second Wave Feminism whose influence you could see in last night's reading?
Give an example of autobiography from last night's reading.
Name someone who had a strong influence on Wendy's life and writing. How so?
If you could know more details about one aspect of Wendy's life, what would it be, and why?
Full transcript