Sunday, January 27, 2008

Louise Kennedy to Wendy Wasserstein - Shut Up Already

Louise Kennedy in the Sunday Globe:

And even though scenes from my own life could fit nicely into a
Wasserstein script - I was reading these plays while trying to amuse my 10-year-old, home sick from school, and talking with my editor on the phone about Wasserstein's thoughts on balancing work and family life - I think it's terribly limited, and limiting, to pretend that her plays have a lot to say about Woman Today.

They do have a lot to say about one kind of woman
today: an educated, financially comfortable, liberal, now middle-aged woman who's trying to figure out how to get as much as she possibly can out of life. But even within that narrow sphere, the Wasserstein woman continues to think,
and talk, and obsess in ways that many of us no longer have the time or patience for. Has anyone you know uttered the phrase "having it all" with a straight face since, oh, 1975? As for the generation of women, now in their 20s and 30s, who are younger than both Wasserstein and me, it's hard to imagine that these plays address their concerns and questions in ways that really speak to them.


betterversionofme said...

I'm almost impressed at how much she was able to write without it accumulating to anything. Kennedy simultaneously holds Wasserstein's plays at too low a standard (Sex and the City? Someone is rolling their grave, and it isn't me...) and compares them to standards too high (I don't think anyone has ever asserted that Wasserstein was the next Chekhov). The only thing I find "limiting" is Kennedy's blanket assertion that Wasserstein's plays don't speak to the modern woman. Does she even like theatre?

Thomas Garvey said...

I'm probably going to get to that "piece" in depth eventually (Flash! Chekhov is better than Wasserstein!), even though I've kicked Louise around so much already that even I'm bored doing it. I think, though, the funniest part of it was her cry that Wasserstein and her generation were entirely too self-absorbed - all while sounding, well, entirely self-absorbed. And how does all this fit in with Kennedy's praise of Rebeck, who is far more superficial than Wasserstein? (And don't get me started on Suzan-Lori Parks.) Not that I was thrilled with Third, mind you, but Wasserstein somehow continues to appeal to me. She had, in the end, her own dramatic voice, whatever her shortcomings in structure and development. Her best work will last - at least a little while. Surely Louise Kennedy can vote for Obama without trashing the recently departed.