Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wendy Wasserstein dead at 55

I couldn't believe it when I read this. She was an amazing playwright and a champion of the modern American woman.

According to this article from Playbill:

Wendy Wasserstein, who for three decades, through a series of compassionately comedic dramas, charted the strivings and disappointments of the modern American woman, died early Jan. 30 at the age of 55, Lincoln Center Theater confirmed. The cause was lymphoma.

That Ms. Wasserstein should be struck down by cancer is in some respects sadly ironic. A character in Third suffers from cancer. Additionally, her older sister Sandra Wasserstein Meyer -- the model of the Sara Goode character in The Sisters Rosensweig -- died of breast cancer in 1997.

The partially autobiographical The Sisters Rosensweig, which premiered on Broadway in 1993, concerned the loves and travails of three vivacious and very different siblings. It was Ms. Wasserstein's second Broadway hit running -- an unheard of feat in the theatre in recent decades. The production followed The Heidi Chronicles, the searching, multi year examination of the women's movement, which put the author on the map and arguably made her the most prominent female playwright in America for the remainder of her life.

Her surviving family has suggested that donations be made in Ms. Wasserstein's name to the "Open Doors" program of the Theatre Development Fund at 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.

"A play is a piece of art," Ms. Wasserstein said about her profession. "And art comes from somebody with an urgency. I think that what's great about theatre is you still have the possibility of one writer and one director saying: 'We see the world this way. Here's a point of view. And we're going to throw it out there, and we're not going to do it because we've taken 47 market polls on what the audience wants. We're doing this because this is how we see it.' Theatre isn't prefabricated. It isn't that watered-down stuff. Theatre is about words and craft and a point of view. You miss that in life now."

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