Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wendy Wasserstein 1950-2006

Wendy Wasserstein was a trailblazer in American theatre. She represented a group that has long been considered second class citizens, that rarely gets respect or is even taken seriously. That group of course, is comedy writers.

You thought I was going to say women, didn’t you? Well yeah, she did all that too. And you can throw in a voice of our generation. But she did more. She made her mark using comedy.

There is no more haughty self-important community than the New York thea-tah scene. For a play to be important it had to be a “drahhhma”. It had to challenge, elevate, disturb, enlighten (confuse?...bore?). Comedies were crowd pleasing little trifles. Wendy Wasserstein changed that. She wrote thought provoking, challenging, enlightening plays that were real and FUNNY. She won Tonys and Pulitzers and proved that comedy writers could eat at the grown up table too.

I hope they name a theatre after her or an honorary Tony in her name or whatever these people do to pay tribute to their own. A sandwich, a drink at Sardis even. I mean, there are streets on Broadway for Cousin Brucie and Senor Wences for godsakes. Wendy Wasserstein will be greatly missed – by comedy writers, by women, by her generation, by anyone who loves to be transported by the magic and power of the theatre. She deserved a happier ending…and a much longer run.

10 comments:

shecanfilmit said...

I totally agree! I'm surprised that you're the only blog who noted her passing. I saw her interviewed once and she seemed to be so down to earth, and funny.

Frank Strovel III said...

Rosie O'Donnell notes her passing as well and shares a story or two about Wendy.

Nice post, Ken.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Wonder if hounds will come out of the woods now to opt Heidi Chronicles or Sisters Rosensweig.

frankengirl said...

Nice post. I agree whole-heartedly.

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Diana said...

Wasserstein was born in Brooklyn, New York to Morris Wasserstein, a wealthy textile executive, and his wife, Lola Schleifer, an amateur dancer who moved to the United States from Poland when her father was accused of being a spy. Lola Wasserstein reportedly inspired some of her daughter's characters. Wendy was one of five siblings, including brother Bruce Wasserstein. Her maternal grandfather was Simon Schleifer, a prominent Polish Jewish playwright who moved to Paterson, New Jersey and became a Hebrew school principal. sportsbook Wasserstein earned a B.A. in history from Mount Holyoke College in 1971, an M.A. in creative writing from City College of New York, and an M.F.A. in 1976 from the Yale School of Drama, where her classmates included the future playwright Christopher Durang. In 1990 she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Mount Holyoke College and in 2002 Wasserstein received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bates College.
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