Another Untimely Cancer Death

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • The sad news about the untimely death from cancer of one of my favorite playwrights, Wendy Wasserstein is clouding my day. Wasserstein, 55, the best known female playwright of her generation, died of lymphoma. A single mother who gave birth at 48, she leaves a young daughter.

    I always went out of my way to see Wasserstein’s plays. Her strong women characters--feminist baby boomers, usually Jewish, funny, trying to have it all yet self--aware enough to know that it is an impossible dream--seemed to speak directly, in snappy dialogue, to my generation’s immediate concerns. As a graduate student in Chicago in 1977, I loved “Uncommon Women and Others,” which is about a group of college friends who reunite after seven years and talk about their dreams of becoming “amazing before 30.” I was 23 at the time and completely related to those characters. Of all her plays, including “The Heidi Chronicles” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989, “Isn’t It Romantic,” (1983) “The Sisters Rosensweig.” (1992), and “An American Daughter,” (1997), Uncommon Women remains my favorite. I also enjoyed the essays that Wasserstein contributed to magazines. There’s one about trying to lose weight using a personal trainer that was especially funny.
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    I can’t think of another playwright who captures so perfectly modern womanhood, at least for a certain segment of women. Although I never met Wasserstein, her death seems like losing a friend. From all accounts, she was herself, a most uncommon heroine.
Published On: February 01, 2006