Friday Videos: Uncommon Women and Others: A Play By Wendy Wasserstein

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Wendy Wasserstein

Playwright Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006) was, above all, a social historian. Balancing drama and comedy to write about social class in Manhattan and about Jewish-American identity, she drew inspiration from Chekhov and the comedies of S. Behrman, Moss Hart, and Noel Coward. The ideas of Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, and Susan Faludi also informed Wasserstein’s work, which chronicles the rise and the eventual collapse of both feminism and liberalism between the late 1960s and the earliest years of the 21st century.¬† (From product review for Reading the Plays of Wendy Wasserstein.)

Wasserstein’s first production of note was Uncommon Women and Others (her graduate thesis at Yale), a play which reflected her experiences as a student at, and an alumna of, Mount Holyoke College. A full version of the play was produced in 1977 off-Broadway with Glenn Close, Jill Eikenberry, and Swoosie Kurtz playing the lead roles. The play was subsequently produced for PBS with Meryl Streep replacing Close.

The following videos are of the PBS production. It’s dated and overacted, but valuable nonetheless for its commentary on a society feeling the effects of the feminist movement, both before, during and after it.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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