Playwright Wendy Wasserstein has come a long way since she wrote mother-daughter fashion shows in order to get out of gym. Yesterday afternoon over 200 people filled Meyerson Hall to hear Wasserstein describe the journey which led to her latest success -- the current Broadway hit The Heidi Chronicles. The play won the 1989 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Wasserstein spent much of her hour-long speech encouraging the enthusiastic crowd not to be afraid to take chances if they want to realize their dreams. "It's worth it to take a risk to do what you really want in life," Wasserstein said. "It will either work out or it won't." She told of her first break in show business, when her script was given a reading by the newly-founded Playwrights Horizons in New York. She said she only submitted the script after the encouragement from the former secretary of the dance school where she had taken lessons when she was younger. She downplayed the idea that "to get a play produced you have to know someone who knows someone." Wasserstein's big success came with the opening of The Heidi Chronicles which opened on Broadway two years ago. Wasserstein joked that her next achievement will be to win the Heisman Trophy. She described in detail how she came to write the story of the women's movement as seen through the eyes of her protagonist, a feminist art historian. She said she saw a need for such a work when she was attending the Yale School for Drama and a fellow student critiqued a play she wrote by saying, "I can't get into it, it's only about girls." Wasserstein concluded her speech with an emotional reading from The Heidi Chronicles, which was followed by a question-and-answer session. Wasserstein has just completed the screenplay for The Heidi Chronicles, but she said she prefers to write for the theater rather than the big screen. Plays, she said, "allow more control" than movies, and screenplays have to be changed to reflect the ideas of the producers. The week after she won the Pulitzer, Wasserstein recalled, she was flown to Hollywood where movie producers told her, "We love your play; we just have trouble with the main character, the second act and the ending." Wasserstein is currently working on a new play which she described as a romance. Melissa Birnbaum, a College senior who attended the lecture, described the talk as "extremely inspiring," adding that Wasserstein "shows that you don't have to take a certain path in order to succeed." "I thought she was wonderful and she was very candid about what it takes to become a playwright," said second year MBA student Robert Cain. College sophomore Melissa Schiffman said she was impressed with Wasserstein's address. "She was very funny and it was nice to hear how a down-to-earth person actually broke into the business," she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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