Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein (1989)

Summary:  The play follows Heidi over the course of 30 years--from her time in high school to her successful career as an art historian.  Several characters play varying degrees in importance in her life over the years, both romantically and not.  Sometimes Heidi is happy, sometimes she is not, but it seems that she is never fully satisfied.

Thoughts:  I understand why this play is important--especially for female audiences in the late eighties.  Many of the scenes chronicle Heidi's experiences with feminism--"rap sessions" conspicuously set in liberal university towns (Ann Arbor) and protests about the absence of female artists on the walls of prestigious galleries.  Heidi's "one that got away" ends up unhappy in his marriage (thus kissing her on his wedding day, obviously) and her "maybe it could work" eventually comes out to her.  The play seems to ultimately state that though women can be "liberated", they can't have it all.  The last scene of the play reveals Heidi with her adopted baby; but despite her successful career, good group of friends and new baby...she still seems to feel incomplete without a man.  I know that this play is often referenced in discussions about feminism in drama, but I found it to be largely anti-feminist.

Interestingly, it contained the first reference to AIDS that I have encountered thus far in the project.  Though the word AIDS is never mentioned, Peter has a monologue about the difficulty of attending multiple New York City funerals with the same cause of death.

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