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Feminist Drama

Notes towards Day 24
Critical Feminist Studies

Feminist Drama:
"The Heidi Chronicles"

I. coursekeeping and announcements

III. Attending to a new genre: feminist drama
"It's where my imagination goes and sticks....
Women's issues are still interesting enough to me to
make me want to sit alone in a room and write."

"I didn't know whether the sacrifices I had made were worth the road I was taking.
So I decided to write a play about all that."
--Wendy Wasserstein

(b. 1950, Mt. Holyoke '71, Yale MFA '76;
Pulitzer, Tony, andNY Drama Circle Critics' Award
for The Heidi Chronicles, '89;

d. '06)

IV. What does this play add to our ongoing conversation about critical feminism?
EMaciolek, Progress: Like its name would suggest, The Heidi Chronicles chronicles the life of a woman from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1980s. Thus we see the development of viewpoints toward feminism throughout a thirty-year span. Heidi, the protagonist, is a very exceptional and educated woman. Yet even she is struggling with the insecurity of being an independent, working woman in a society where it is accepted as a rule that women are equal to men (even though blatant discrimination still exists in the workplace and it is nearly impossible for women to gain as much power as men).
jrizzo: In class we've mentioned the feminists who believe women are done in by their willingness to buy into traditional representations of male-dominant heterosexual love....heterosexual now in desperate need of new representations and interpretations.

ann: Kindred...occurs within the context of a (hetero) relationship, where the partners interact in ways that are both conscious and unconscious. Was it about hetero sex? Yes and no. It was about the eros of a real realtionship really don't find any universality in the lesbian poems that we have read?

Jessy: What I think is problematic for the woman-attracted-to-men feminist who reads THC is that first of all Heidi does not have romance in her (happy?) ending and second that Heidi's happiness lies in her hopes for the future, her hopes for her daughter, not in her current happiness....Where is a model for a heterosexual monogamous etc. marriage which is also feminist?
Abby:  I'm also really intrigued by Heidi's "Women, Where are We Going Speech" in Act Two, Scene Four.  She ends with a confession of real  loneliness as a feminist, as someone who had expected to find a place of belonging and ended up having to face the nasty reality that it's every woman for herself.  It strikes me as a call to, above all else, sisterhood.  Come to think of it, none of the female relationships in this play really strike me as deep and important.  I was more often distrustful of any woman in this text other than Heidi.  The scene in Act One with the meeting of the Huron Street Ann Arbor Consciousness-raising Rap Group set the tone for me in terms of feeling this way I think.  It always felt like these women were performing for each other, performing feminism as opposed to really investing in it.

There are other questions,  in your postings, about the role of men in the play.....

Organize into groups of 3/4 (each group w/ one "theater person"?
Emily, Jessica, Stephanie, Abby, Barbara...
anyone else have experience in theater?)

Choose one (portion of one) scene to enact for us all (2 pp. tops....)

V. Stop-action drama: halt/insert/alter/comment....

VI. Reflecting on what we have seen:
Perhaps feminism can best be summarized as: "a mode of analysis, a method of approaching life and politics, rather than a set of political conclusions about the oppression of women"
(from "Building Feminist Theory").

Just as there is not one feminism there is not one feminist theater.
Linda Alcoff: "Matching theory to practice--
feminism as a strategy, a project which seeks change."

what sort of feminism has Wasserstein scripted? have we enacted?
A comedy of manners? Surface level revelations?
Challenges to deeper social structure?

Are certain types of theatrical composition or dramaturgy more appropriate than others to promote feminist understanding in an audience?