Monday, January 30, 2006

An Uncommon Woman

Sad news for the theater world today as it was announced that playwright Wendy Wasserstein died at the terribly young age of 55. She won the Tony and Pulitzer for The Heidi Chronicles in 1989 -- the first woman to win the "Best Play" Tony all on her own, as a matter of fact. Her plays were wickedly funny at times, but always had a melancholy underbelly, usually not too far below the surface. Ms. Wasserstein never married, but in 1999, at the age of 49, she gave birth to a girl, Lucy Jane, who was quite frighteningly premature. Like her character Heidi -- who 10 years earlier ended her eponymous play by adopting a child as a single parent -- Wendy decided that motherhood was something she was called to, regardless of her marital status. She never made it public who the father was.

Wendy Wasserstein battled lymphoma for some time. I feel sorry for all theater lovers, myself included, who will never know the plays she would write in what should have rightly been the second half of her career. And, mostly, I feel sorry for Lucy Jane, who will grow up without the mother who moved mountains to have her.

Say a prayer for Lucy Jane. And for Wendy.