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Playwright Wendy Wasserstein Dies at Age 55

A look back at the life and work of playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died Monday at the age of 55.

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  • ACTRESS:

    It's all right Holly. When we're 40 we'll be incredible.

  • ACTRESS:

    Rita when you were graduating you predicted by 30.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Wendy Wasserstein's plays chronicled American feminism and her characters tackled the challenges and crises confronting modern women.

    She wrote her first play, "Uncommon Women and Others," as her Yale School of Drama graduate thesis.

  • ACTRESS:

    Our entire being has been programmed for male approval.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The one-act play, a satire about the anxieties of female college graduates, was expanded for an off-Broadway production in 1977, and telecast on public television's "Great Performances" a year later.

    In 1989, Wasserstein won a Pulitzer Prize and became the first woman to win a Tony Award for best play for "The Heidi Chronicles."

    Many of Wasserstein's plays debuted off-Broadway, and during a 2002 NewsHour appearance she spoke about the process.

  • WENDY WASSERSTEIN:

    Plays take time; plays need to be nurtured. But I think what's really true is there is a yearning, not only to be in the community, but also to have that experience of an individual voice hitting you, that it is not something that is processed in a way.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    While primarily a playwright, Wasserstein also wrote for television and the big screen.

  • ACTOR:

    Thank you. Absolutely the best holiday.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    In 1998, she penned the screenplay for the film version of Stephen McCauley's novel "The Object of My Affection."

    Wasserstein grew up in Brooklyn. As a teenager she moved to Manhattan where she lived the rest of her life; she never married.

  • WENDY WASSERSTEIN:

    I think one might have to face the fact that one will spend a great deal of one's life alone, or one might have to decide that you don't know what's going to happen. Frankly, that's what I think. I think you don't know, which keeps it sort of interesting. And you don't know what relationships will be meaningful to you.

    Somewhere there has to be something inside of you that is strong — and I don't mean angry — I think sort of strong and hopeful in a way, which is insane, which is completely insane. You know?

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