The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein Exhibition

Archives and Special Collections Exhibition

October 28, 2011–April 15, 2012, Art Museum Lobby

"I wanted to see an all-female curtain call in the basement of the Yale School of Drama." —Wendy Wasserstein

The American playwright Wendy Wasserstein was fond of describing thus the origins of her first major play, Uncommon Women and Others (1977), which she began writing at the Yale School of Drama. But the play goes back to her student days at Mount Holyoke College, from which Wasserstein graduated in 1971. Drawing on her college experiences and friendships, it marked the beginning of a pathbreaking career. Wasserstein graduated from MHC as the women’s movement was gaining traction. Choices were increasing, and expectations were high, and Wasserstein explored the impact of both and how they evolved during the three decades in which she worked.


A lifelong passionate theatregoer and the first female playwright to win a solo Tony Award (for The Heidi Chronicles in 1989), Wendy Wasserstein created some of the theatre’s most vibrant female roles: funny/sad Heidi Holland, the three sisters Rosensweig, the captivatingly uncommon women, and more. Her characters have been brought to life by many of our era’s greatest actresses. But ultimately her women are universal. Though often grappling with issues particular to their gender, Wasserstein’s women want what every human wants: love, connection, meaning, relevance, integrity.

Rita: …I’m not going to throw my imagination away. I refuse to live down to expectation. If I can just hold out till I’m 30, I’ll be incredible.
Holly: Rita, I think you’re already incredible.

—from Uncommon Women and Others

—Caroline J. White, Exhibit Curator

View photos from the exhibit and the video interview with Julie Salmon.