The Heidi Chronicles and Other Plays

ISBN: 0679734996
ISBN 13: 9780679734994
By: Wendy Wasserstein

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Reader's Thoughts

Twila Warner

So funny and heartfelt too.

Larry Bassett

This book of three short plays from the 1970s and 1980s is a delightful flashback for me. I will go to my 50th high school class reunion this year. It will be interesting to see how many of us managed to have it all. A random speech from the first play, Uncommon Women and Others: HOLLY: What kind of pleasure? There’s someone on top of you sweating and pushing and you’re lying there pretending this is wonderful. That’s not wonderful. That’s masochistic. Well, this is a feminist play from the 70s! What did you expect?Here is the description of Holly at the front of the play: HOLLY KAPLAN: hair disheveled, yet well cut. She wears expensive clothes that don’t quite match, not because she doesn’t know what matches, but because she doesn’t want to try too hard. That would be too embarrassing. A relier for many years on the adage “If she lost twenty pounds, she’s be a very pretty girl, and if she worked, she’d do very well,” Holly has devised a strong moral code of warmth for those you love and wit for those you’re scared of. Holly saw the Radio City Easter Show in second grade and planned to convert. Andre Bishop writes in the Foreward: Reading the plays of Wendy Wasserstein is quite different from seeing the plays of Wendy Wasserstein. In the theatre, they are consistently funny; the comedy sparkles. Yet when one sits down to read these three plays, one is surprised, almost overwhelmed, by their seriousness.It seems to me that Wendy’s plays are ideas that happen to be written as comedies. The three heroines, though vastly different, share an essential sadness, but it is a sadness deflected by humor, because these are witty women and they use their wit to devastating effect. The thing is: I think maybe I just should have been born Jewish. That way I could have a heritage without having to be religious. I just love these Jewish characters and I loved the Jewish women in the Grace Paley short stories I just read. I must have lived in NYC in a past life. Or maybe I will in a future life!A random speech from the second play, Isn’t It Romantic: HARRIET: Mother, do you think it’s possible to be married or live with a man, have a good relationship and children that you share equal responsibility for, build a career, and still read novels, play the piano, have women friends, and swim twice a week? In the third play, The Heidi Chronicles, Heidi gives a talk to an alumnae group in 1986: Well, you might be thinking, this is a woman’s meeting, so let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. After teaching at Columbia yesterday, Miss Holland probably attended a low-impact aerobics class with weights, picked up her children from school, took the older one to drawing-with-computers at the Metropolitan, and the younger one to swimming-with-gifted-children. On returning home, she immediately prepared grilled mesquite free-range chicken with balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes, advised her investment-banker, well-rounded husband on future finances for the City Ballet, put the children to bed, recited the favorite Greek myths and sex-education legends, dashed into the library to call the twenty-two-year-old squash player who is passionately in love with her to say they can only be friends, finished writing ten pages of a new book, took the remains of the mesquite free-range dinner to a church that feeds the homeless, massaged her husband’s feet, and relieved any fears that he “might” be getting old by “doing it” in the kitchen, read forty pages of the Inferno in Italian, took a deep breath, and put out the light. So after all this, we forgive Miss Holland for not preparing a speech today. She’s exemplary and exhausted. If you are a baby-boomer or a feminist or an over-achiever or simply know someone who is, you might enjoy this quick-read that will give you something to relate to, to remember and to think about for a while. Those were the days. Five stars. One extra for the nostalgia. Winner: 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


i really like all three of these plays. wasserstein had such a unique voice and she is evocative of her time.


Love it. Ia m on a wendy kick right now,.. still not done with it


I picked this up for my Modern Drama class in college. I had to choose a playwright we were not studying in class to read and write a paper about. My dad suggested Wendy Wasserstein for he thought she was up my alley. Oh, how I loved this play. I read all of her plays in print for my assignment, but the Heidi Chronicles is so true, so heartbreaking, and touched me in a way few authors are able. It stands the test of time and does not date itself. I have given this to many friends during some tough times in their lives.


The Heidi Chronicles is easily the best play in this collection. Wasserstein's portrayal of Heidi is real and unsympathetic. The other two plays in this collection - Uncommon Women and Others & Isn't It Romantic - are less fully realized. So I've rated this collection solely on the merits of THC.


What an incredibly funny (and poignant...and telling...) play. Someone needs to make a movie of this.

Allison Wonderland

I've never seen any of Wendy Wasserstein's plays performed live; however, I did see the Meryl Streep/Swoosie Kurtz performance of Uncommon Women on DVD. It's my favorite of her plays, yet The Heidi Chronicles seems to get the most acclaim. I actually like The Heidi Chronicles least of the three plays featured in this book.

Jessica Barkl

All I have to say, is that I really want to direct this play...THE HEIDI CHRONICLES, and that's saying a lot because I shy away from realism like the plague, but...I love this play. I love it on so many levels. I love the characters...the men, the women...I love the structure...I love its epic scope...and I love Wendy Wasserstein for writing this.


I had only been exposed to one of Wasserstein's plays, when I played the role of douche bag Paul Stuart in 'Isn't It Romantic' while still in high school. The subject matter was over our heads then and the play- even with having two very strong female leads- wasn't what it could have been. Still, it provided for an introduction to her work. Now, approaching 30, I picked up her plays, which include the aforementioned, and I most definitely understand the themes and complex, nuance struggles of the characters. I also understand Wasserstein's awards, accolades and fan base. She really was hitting the nail on the head with the prevailing gender role issues that were a part of the past three generations of American life. Her sincerity, keen observations, sarcasm and general optimism permeates what could be a very dark group of plays. Beautiful work. Very happy to reread 'Isn't It Romantic' especially.

Jed L

A play I read for my survey of theatre class, The Heidi Chronicles wasn't my favorite. I felt that it lacked any plot or much depth in character development. It tried to tell a moving story of how a woman grows up through the 60s-80s trying to find a voice for herself, but I struggled to connect with the character at all. It jumped around a lot and was pretty confusing. It won a Pulitzer Prize, but I am not sure why. Probably because it explored new issues and was controversial. And the movie is even worse with Jamie Lee Curtis. Avoid both if you can.


When I requested this from the library I thought I was getting the play “The Heidi Chronicles” and I was, but I was also getting “Uncommon Women and Others” and “Isn’t It Romantic.” What a delightful combination! The first is a play from 1977 that I knew well then; I did Holly’s monologue in college. “Isn’t It Romantic” I knew only from Wasserstein’s biography. “The Heidi Chronicles” I’d heard of – I don’t quite live under a rock— it won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony, but I haven’t seen a production of it. “Uncommon Women” is dated, but it’s also still a wonderful piece of writing and I’d love to see it staged again. “Isn’t it Romantic” is from 1983 and it’s about Janie and Harriet who have moved back to New York City after going to college, their parents and their lovers and their careers. “The Heidi Chronicles” came to Broadway in 1989 and takes place in roughly chronological scenes from 1965 to 1989 and is about these years in the lives of Heidi Holland and Susan Johnston, their boyfriends, careers and families. It’s a great play with dialogue that jumps off the page. As one of the characters might say: "A+!"


The book has witty conversation but that was really all i liked about it. I liked the main character but the ending didn't quite agree with me. It felt unfinished :/

David Jay

I didn't have great expectations for this collection of plays. I've always thought Wendy Wasserstein was overrated and I've really disliked some of her other works (I hated "The Sisters Rosensweig...") What a pleasant surprise. I thought all three of these plays were beautifully constructed and interesting. Some cliches here and there and wow, these pieces are so so dated. But I think that that becomes almost charming, a la Thornton Wilder or William Inge. They are time capsules of a completely different, albiet not so long ago, era. I particularly liked "Isn't It Romantic?" which I imagine is the least known of the three. Still though, I hardly think "The Heidi Chronicles" is worthy of the Pulitzer Prize, which it won.


I love these three plays. I wrote on the Heidi Chronicles in my Masters thesis. The topic of "wanting it all", career, kids and a society approved relationship is elaborated in a very refreshing way. At the same time it made me think of how the play still strikes today's Zeitgeist, given all the TV-shows and shiny magazines that want to tell us how to design our life styles: get pretty for work in the morning, while preparing a healthy lunch in a chic lunch tote, gym after work if not having a drink at a 5-7, wedding day, kids, all needs to be planned years in ahead.Where are today's Heidis who point the way to an attitude that allows us to pass on some of those many societal expectations? Cause it's ok and it's your happiness to take to heart.

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