THIS EVENT IS ALREADY SOLD OUT: THE HEIDI CHRONICLES, on Wednesday, April 1st at 2pm. Please send in an email with “HEIDI” in the subject line if you would like to be put on our wait list.
CAPTURING THE ZEITGEIST: Is there anything that feels more out of date than something that was so au courant, so fashionable, so cool, not too long ago ? That is certainly true for fashion and interiors and firmly held political views. But sometimes, a re-look at recent history gives a greater sense of perspective than could ever have been achieved in the moment.
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES, the magnum opus of playwright Wendy Wasserstein, is just such a work. There is a great deal of autobiography and self-reference in almost all of Wasserstein’s writing , in particular Uncommon Women and Others, Isn’t It Romantic and The Sisters Rosensweig. But the award-winning HEIDI CHRONICLES (it won both the Tony Award for Best Drama and a Pulitzer Prize) is best known for capturing women’s anxieties, ambition and ambivalence during that time. You might remember: Career vs Marriage/ Motherhood vs Why Choose? Heidi Holland (Heidi = Wendy), her main character, is intelligent and successful but also feels that her achievements are overlooked in relationship to the more conventional measures of a women’s success. Wasserstein always had a knack for humor, and the HEIDI CHRONICLES has many funny moments – but not at the expense of seriously examining the collective identity crisis which was facing her, our, generation.
This mirrors Wasserstein’s own life. Born into a super-high achieving family (including two sisters Sandy and Georgette and her brother Bruce and a long-secret eldest brother who was institutionalized) which was directed by an almost demonic, determined, driving mother, a friend of Wasserstein’s commented that she was “born into great material.” She graduated from Mount Holyoke and the Yale School of Drama, where she had the great fortune to have had a “Who’s Who” of fellow classmates, including Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Terence McNally and Andre Bishop. Wasserstein became an iconic character herself, noted for her trenchant and witty observations about women’s contemporary conflicts. Facing the same issues as her character Heidi Holland, the never married Wasserstein gave birth to a daughter, Lucy Jane, in 1999 and never publicly identified the father. She died of lymphoma in 2006. An amazing biography of Wasserstein, Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein by Julie Salamon is a definitive and delightfully gossipy celebrity tell-all.
The new production is the first Broadway revival of the HEIDI CHRONICLES since the original Playwrights Horizon production closed in 1990. It stars Elisabeth (Mad Men) Moss, Bryce (Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) Pinkham and Jason (Orange is the New Black) Biggs. Director Pam McKinnon, a recent Tony Award winner for directing the most recent Broadway revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and currently represented on Broadway with A DELICATE BALANCE, is taking the reins here.
This is a great chance to see an iconic work with the perspective of having lived through many of the societal changes captured in the play. How that feels to us now will be telling indeed.