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An American Daughter - Acting Edition Paperback – September 1, 1999
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A daring new play-beautiful, brilliant, angry and funny. Wendy Wasserstein has not merely returned to the broader political concerns of her cherished Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles, she has returned with a vengeance-electrifyingly reconnected. . . . Enormously moving.-Newsday
From the Inside Flap
Pulitzer-Prize winner Wendy Wasserstein spins a comic and moving tale about the pitfalls that await political appointees. As a respected health crusader and devoted wife and mother, Dr. Lyssa Hughes seems perfect for the role of U.S. Surgeon General, until a chance remark at a fashionable brunch sets off a media feeding frenzy.
An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring David Birney, Anna Gunn, Jamie Hanes, Gregory Itzin, Michael Malone, Kevin McCarthy, Mary McDonnell, Claudette Nevins and Denise Nicholas. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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Top customer reviews
This is an excellent political play. It is the late 90s. President Clinton is in office (although he isn't referred to by name, it's him - all of the other politicians mentioned are fictional, but they fit in traditional roles). Dr. Lyssa Dent Hughes is a 42 year old wonder woman who has been nominated for Surgeon General (the President's first choice didn't make it through the confirmation process). Dr. Hughes is married to a well known liberal professor and she is the daughter of a conservative Senator from Indiana. There are a few other characters in the play that add to the salon of intellectuals. Dr. Hughes's nomination is thrown into turmoil when a small incident from her past comes to light.
The whole play is very well handled. The dialogue is very good.
The press pounces on this "Jurygate" mistake, which quickly becomes worse when she indicates that she does not make "icebox cake" and "pimiento-cheese canapés" like her late mother and the other women from Indiana, galvanizing them to oppose her "elitism." The press camps out at her Georgetown home, and before long, her young son is yelling from the TV room, "Mom, they think that you're the problem with America." But Lyssa refuses to "be hung out to dry, even if I have to wear headbands, bake cookies, and sing lullabies to do it." In an interview with Timber Tucker, which becomes the climax of the play, she aggressively tackles the health and social issues which mean so much to her, and angrily faces down the press and the public's perceptions, for better or worse.
Written in 1999, this play tackles women's social issues in a man's world, serious women's health issues, political expediencies, and press intrusions into private areas, and every female reader or viewer will understand and empathize with the characters as they face their demons here. In the ten years since this play was written, however, the country has made great strides, and the issues Lyssa discusses have been analyzed and tackled with far greater energy than ever before, to the point that Lyssa's impassioned speech seems a bit dated. Hilary Clinton's "baking cookies" remarks and Lyssa's parallel icebox cake and pimiento-cheese references feel tired and "stale" now.
The facts and figures she cites regarding research funds for breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, as opposed to the far greater funding for prostate cancer, are being actively addressed, and points made about the holding of women to different standards now feel like a cliché. As a relic of the 1990s, this play is important and, perhaps, even ground-breaking, but its punch has been blunted over the past ten years by the progress women have made since it premiered. The fact that it still resonates with viewers, however, shows that significant issues still remain. n Mary Whipple
The Sisters Rosensweig
The Heidi Chronicles.
Charlie Rose with Wendy Wasserstein, John Guare & David Henry Hwang; Caio Fonseca, Edmund White & Isabel Fonseca; Morris Lapidus (November 23, 2000)
It was an engrossing story, certainly recognizable in this day in age, peppered with characters that I've seen time and again on cable news, and pivots on that seemingly minor transgression everyone famous and political seems(has) to have made.
What stands out about An American Daughter is the weakness in the media system to award courage and conviction in action. Even in spite of mistakes, which are surely universal. That I suppose was behind Wasserstein's m.o., that tangling with the gossips and character assassins and the news engine is more gristle for them, death for you. That is a statement painfully necessary more and more, as the hypocrisy of the day is not slips of paper and frustrating civil service, but war and death and political capital.