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Uncommon Women and Others

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Comprised of a collage of interrelated scenes, the action begins with a reunion, six years after graduation, of five close friends and classmates at Mount Holyoke College. They compare notes on their activities since leaving school and then, in a series of flashbacks, we see them in their college days and learn of the events, some funny, some touching, some bitingly cynica Comprised of a collage of interrelated scenes, the action begins with a reunion, six years after graduation, of five close friends and classmates at Mount Holyoke College. They compare notes on their activities since leaving school and then, in a series of flashbacks, we see them in their college days and learn of the events, some funny, some touching, some bitingly cynical, that helped to shape them. Each of the group is a distinct individual, and it is their varying reaction to the staid, sheltered and often anachronistic university environment (with its undercurrent of sometimes darker personal desires and conclusions) gives the play its special meaning for today's young women as they go forth into the changing and often disquieting world that awaits them after graduation.


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Comprised of a collage of interrelated scenes, the action begins with a reunion, six years after graduation, of five close friends and classmates at Mount Holyoke College. They compare notes on their activities since leaving school and then, in a series of flashbacks, we see them in their college days and learn of the events, some funny, some touching, some bitingly cynica Comprised of a collage of interrelated scenes, the action begins with a reunion, six years after graduation, of five close friends and classmates at Mount Holyoke College. They compare notes on their activities since leaving school and then, in a series of flashbacks, we see them in their college days and learn of the events, some funny, some touching, some bitingly cynical, that helped to shape them. Each of the group is a distinct individual, and it is their varying reaction to the staid, sheltered and often anachronistic university environment (with its undercurrent of sometimes darker personal desires and conclusions) gives the play its special meaning for today's young women as they go forth into the changing and often disquieting world that awaits them after graduation.

30 review for Uncommon Women and Others

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    I thought I had finished my 2019 reading year and I thought wrong. My husband and daughters are watching movies on Netflix and I just wasn’t in the mood. I’m still in my Wrigley Field sweatshirt and Patriots fuzzy socks having spent the entire day reading. All of my challenges are in place for 2020 and I’m so excited to get started. One group that I neglected in 2019 was 500 Great Books by Women, and I will be participating in Women’s Bingo in 2020. One task is read a play written by a woman so I thought I had finished my 2019 reading year and I thought wrong. My husband and daughters are watching movies on Netflix and I just wasn’t in the mood. I’m still in my Wrigley Field sweatshirt and Patriots fuzzy socks having spent the entire day reading. All of my challenges are in place for 2020 and I’m so excited to get started. One group that I neglected in 2019 was 500 Great Books by Women, and I will be participating in Women’s Bingo in 2020. One task is read a play written by a woman so of course I read the entire play before the clock struck midnight. I have loved and laughed with everything that Wendy Wasserstein wrote so when I saw that she had written a play that I hadn’t read yet, I slotted it into the drama slot for women’s bingo. Like all of Wasserstein’s work, Uncommon Women and Others was hilariously poignant. I am grateful for the women of Wendy Wasserstein’s generation. They shattered the glass ceiling so that the women of my generation x could have any choice available to us in life. Uncommon Women centers around six friends who graduated from Mount Holyoke Women’s College in 1977 and then gathered at a reunion six years later. To put into context, Ivy League schools had only begun to admit women as undergraduate students less than ten years earlier. In the throes of the women’s movement, single gender colleges were still the reality for many intelligent women looking to get a leg up in life upon entering society. Mount Holyoke has an illustrious history, counting Emily Dickinson among her many alumnae. In 1977 Mount Holyoke was still as much of an option for top female students as the Ivy League as those institutions still worked out the kinks as to how many women to admit. As the 1970s spilled into the 1980s when baby boom women entered the workforce like never before, Wasserstein has set the stage for her college reunion of six “uncommon” friends. What I have enjoyed about all of Wasserstein’s plays that I have read is that her premise is real enough to have happened yet just far fetched enough to provide comedy. My favorite of hers is Sisters Rosenzweig because the comedy and far fetched premise outdoes the real to life premise. I think though the real life changing reality in Uncommon Women has vaulted it to second place for me, ahead of the Pulitzer winning Heidi Chronicles. We meet six friends who have gathered in 1983 at their six year college reunion. In college they were all feminists but as they near thirty most have settled into adult life and are dealing with the everyday trials and tribulations of adulthood. Katie is a successful lawyer and a long term relationship with Kent. Samantha married Robert upon graduation and they are expecting their first child. Holly relies on her wealthy father and is still finding herself. Meanwhile Rita, the easy woman in college, is married to Timmy and doing well for herself. All the friends appear happy to see each other. There is more drama in their flashbacks to college angst than in their adult lives. As American society moved into the 1980s perhaps this was normal as things started to settle down. Wasserstein created fleshed out characters, even creating a role for Glenn Close on stage. Even though the script is on the short side, there are memorable scenes and interactions between all of the characters, stressing how women had more choices available to them upon graduation than in generations past. Yet, these top women still attended a college like Mount Holyoke, which allowed Wasserstein to point to the discrepancies between a new generation of women and the traditional, society women of time gone by. In the generational gap, working women who desired more than being housewives won out over those who received their Mrs degrees, even though there were many of these women as well. Wasserstein has created an archetype of the married woman, working woman, and the woman still searching for herself, making for a light, comedic play that addresses themes that touch all women as they move away from their college years. One can sense that this play was semi autobiographical making it all the more realistic for the theater goer or reader. As 2019 winds down, I am immersing myself in women in drama and music as I listen to a mix of women in rock and roll of the last thirty years. Everything Wendy Wasserstein created toed the line between reality and a scene so crazy that you can’t make it up. She was one special playwright who left us well before her time. I feel honored to have read her Uncommon Women and Others as my last book of 2019 although there is still time for one more. I am still in my comfy sweatshirt and fuzzy socks and am giddy to start all of my 2020 reading challenges. What a fun way to start. 4 plus stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    I was a very young woman in 1977. I remember this world were educated women just about equally served in their communities as either volunteers who often paid out of their own pocket to serve or professionals who were often paid stipends or minimum salaries. These options still exist. I remember a world were women struggled to choose when to marry and when to have children. Some waited too long to have children and had to adopt/do without children. The same struggle remains except now women also I was a very young woman in 1977. I remember this world were educated women just about equally served in their communities as either volunteers who often paid out of their own pocket to serve or professionals who were often paid stipends or minimum salaries. These options still exist. I remember a world were women struggled to choose when to marry and when to have children. Some waited too long to have children and had to adopt/do without children. The same struggle remains except now women also struggle through fertility treatments instead of adoptions. Some things change. Yet some remain the same. I read this play for a bingo selection and because I told a friend I would read the three plays included in The Heidi Chronicles and Other Plays all by Wendy Wasserstein.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mylissa

    This may be my favorite Wendy Wasserstein play, or at least of the ones I read. And I wonder why it isn't produced more? I've never seen it show up in a season or ever see an audition announcement for it. A theatre discussion talked about how some of the older plays written by women ( of which I would think this qualifies) and how they are no longer relevant, and yes, there are some dated aspects of it, but the themes are dated, just like there are some dated aspects of Shakespeare but the theme This may be my favorite Wendy Wasserstein play, or at least of the ones I read. And I wonder why it isn't produced more? I've never seen it show up in a season or ever see an audition announcement for it. A theatre discussion talked about how some of the older plays written by women ( of which I would think this qualifies) and how they are no longer relevant, and yes, there are some dated aspects of it, but the themes are dated, just like there are some dated aspects of Shakespeare but the themes are not one. This play deals with the ideas of finding yourself in college, and preparedness to face the outside world. All the women have been told they are uncommon women and they each go through their own paths in terms of what that means. The bookends of the play are not set in the college, but rather the real time the women are living in now, the rest is a flashback to their college days, to the questioning and hopes and desires. Have they reached all that they had aimed for by the end of the play - where they are back in real time discussing it. It doesn't seem as if the ideas they had in college have changed but maybe they need a bit more time? Five years wasn't enough so you know, maybe they'll be uncommon women in the next ten years. What exactly dictates an uncommon women anyway? It also covers the ideas of traditions giving way to new ideas. In college the women still have a house mother and have tea in a weird daily etiquette moment and by the end of the college section the house mother has retired and maybe some of the traditions will go with her. It's clearly second wave feminist changes but that could be really interesting in regards to what's going on currently in that department, in comparisons to third wave, or radicals, or how it needs more intersectionality. The characters are very interesting, definite people, not stereotypes. They all want different things and relate to one another in different ways. I was really interested in Carter because she doesn't say much, she's the youngest, but also that probably means she'll benefit the most from what the others have learned and gone through and forged paths for. We don't get to see her in real time though, which would have been a small complaint, would have been interesting to hear what she was up to in her own words. And a lot of really great dialogue between women!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Knapp

    The current discussion--brought about by the recent Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles starring Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss--of whether Wasserstein is "still relevant" is idiotic. This talented and generous writer--to look for a moment just at her politics (although she is a much bigger writer than her politics)--was part of a group of writers and thinkers and activists who took The Movement as far as it could go at that particular historical moment (the late 1970s and the 1980s). To look back The current discussion--brought about by the recent Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles starring Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss--of whether Wasserstein is "still relevant" is idiotic. This talented and generous writer--to look for a moment just at her politics (although she is a much bigger writer than her politics)--was part of a group of writers and thinkers and activists who took The Movement as far as it could go at that particular historical moment (the late 1970s and the 1980s). To look back now with perfect hindsight and ask "is she still relevant" is the wrong, and in fact a meaningless, question. It's like asking if "Babe Ruth" could hit modern day pitching in the Major Leagues.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Avital

    A socially-conscious play about young women who graduated a rather traditional, privileged college for women, built upon traditional values. They reunite six years afterwards and share their experiences, memories, doubts, self-realization and insecurities. In the short scope of such a play there is not enough space to understand them well enough, so each of them, as Wendy Wasserstein says in a rather meta-fictional line, is allowed only one main characteristic. The interaction is fascinating, ho A socially-conscious play about young women who graduated a rather traditional, privileged college for women, built upon traditional values. They reunite six years afterwards and share their experiences, memories, doubts, self-realization and insecurities. In the short scope of such a play there is not enough space to understand them well enough, so each of them, as Wendy Wasserstein says in a rather meta-fictional line, is allowed only one main characteristic. The interaction is fascinating, however, and the social picture makes me sad.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    One of my all time favorite books. Read it while in college and still thinking the world was our oyster, and read it again many years later, when I realized what really made an uncommon woman.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mary Rose

    Pretty good! I'm a Mount Holyoke senior so this was a really nice thing to read during my senior week. Rita is wonderful and I love her. I should watch a recording of it sometime. Pretty good! I'm a Mount Holyoke senior so this was a really nice thing to read during my senior week. Rita is wonderful and I love her. I should watch a recording of it sometime.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Many lines in this play are vivid in memory but I had forgotten the extraordinary opening sequences that use lines from Mount Holyoke speeches and publications to introduce each scene-- hence "uncommon women." There's so much to admire in this play-- the subject matter and setting resonate. Plenty of amusing lines, very evocative of the culture of educated, ambitious young women caught between traditional and feminist expectations. On the other hand don't know how believable I find certain aspect Many lines in this play are vivid in memory but I had forgotten the extraordinary opening sequences that use lines from Mount Holyoke speeches and publications to introduce each scene-- hence "uncommon women." There's so much to admire in this play-- the subject matter and setting resonate. Plenty of amusing lines, very evocative of the culture of educated, ambitious young women caught between traditional and feminist expectations. On the other hand don't know how believable I find certain aspects of the way particular characters are presented. Their relationships with each other seem rather superficial-- not very subtle. Likewise the yearning and angst doesn't go the full distance into a nuanced exploration of their personal dilemmas. They never have conversations about ideas and issues, or their passion for books, ideas, anything I would expect from a bright group of women at this kind of institution -- that just doesn't ring true to my experience. This omission undermines the fact of just how radical the mission of a place like Mount Holyoke was and continues to be -- the emphasis is weighed far too heavily on Gracious Living and husband-finding. Given the desperate need for art on this subject matter, it's disappointing. But reading a play is very different from watching a play. In high school I saw "Uncommon Women and Others" on Great Performances ( I could swear Meryl Streep was one of the players. Swoosie Kurtz, Jill Eikenberry). My old script copy (not this edition-- an Avon/Bard copy with cover art that probably came from debut) includes Glenn Close in the original. In any event I'd love to see it again-- will be on the lookout. Strong actors could bring an awful lot to this play. There are overt (and less overt) allusions to Mary McCarthy's "The Group" that are very intriguing, and many aspects of the play really resonate and stick with the reader. I could still recall some hilarious lines before I got to them. The humor is ribald in a way that seems true to college aged women, and it was probably groundbreaking to be so up front about that in the 70s. On the other hand other aspects of their conversation don't seem to transcend the "can you have it all" line of thinking with much insight-- which goes back to what I was saying about a certain level of superficial. The references to lesbians are unsettling and sophomoric-- as if intended to shock rather than to consider those women as full human beings. This is underscored by the fact that the lesbian characters are never seen onstage-- they're just described in this demeaning way by the ensemble cast. That surprised me. I never did read or see another Wasserstein play-- maybe her perspective grew more open and sophisticated as she progressed. I did enjoy the Housemother and the delightfully rendered irritating classmate-- Susie Friend. Carter, the mad genius classmate, is hysterical.Giving this a four in spite of my reservations-- it's a good read and an ambitious attempt to tell a story that for the most part, remains untold.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Kawalec

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's super interesting. Slow paced, please take the time to understand the meaning of each scene and why each character is in it. And there's a lot of symbolism in each scene. Each character stands for something in women-hood. I would like to see this play. Rita is hilarious. I feel so bad for Samantha and Muffet. holly was bland, and Carter I wish was more involved. I know they all aspired to be the thing that had the least reliance and that to me is a statement. I don't know. I hope it isn't. It's super interesting. Slow paced, please take the time to understand the meaning of each scene and why each character is in it. And there's a lot of symbolism in each scene. Each character stands for something in women-hood. I would like to see this play. Rita is hilarious. I feel so bad for Samantha and Muffet. holly was bland, and Carter I wish was more involved. I know they all aspired to be the thing that had the least reliance and that to me is a statement. I don't know. I hope it isn't. "I'm Just a little talented at a lot of things... I want to be with someone who makes a public statement"; amazing. It's quotes like this that give the feminine look in this play a stereotypical name. When the women all want marry the richest women even though they're straight, and how this play acts out the key intelligence of a variety of women makes this play noticeable in the eyes of any actor seeking a humorous or dramatic monologue and or scene. Great play, hard to follow but make sure to remember that it's never in a single time. It's more of a black box play.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    It's a bummer that Wendy Wasserstein isn't around for a lot of reasons, but one thing I would have loved is to have read her inevitable reply to the Susan Patton flap this spring, about marriage and the Ivy League. This is a play, and a subject, crying out for an update in this decade. There is still a lot to say. I remember reading this during the part of the spring of 12th grade when I was waiting to find out whether I would be able to finance going away to college, which of course was a moment It's a bummer that Wendy Wasserstein isn't around for a lot of reasons, but one thing I would have loved is to have read her inevitable reply to the Susan Patton flap this spring, about marriage and the Ivy League. This is a play, and a subject, crying out for an update in this decade. There is still a lot to say. I remember reading this during the part of the spring of 12th grade when I was waiting to find out whether I would be able to finance going away to college, which of course was a momentous and emotional time. So I was probably a little over-invested in this play -- I also read Three Sisters and got mad at anyone who suggested it was funny they never get to Moscow -- but it made an impression. I don't even remember what happens in the play, or if it's good, or if I like it, but for me that didn't actually matter then. I read this originally out of a copy of the Heidi Chronicles collection, which I don't have any more. I'd like to get one, though.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Patricia King

    When I first read this play, in my early 20s (dear lord, in the early '90s), I remember being blown away by it. It felt slightly transgressive then -- the conversations about sex and gendered power dynamics. Returning to it all these years later, however, Uncommon Women no longer feels like a revelation. In fact, it often seems a little silly, and definitely outdated. My overall impression, re-reading the play in 2019, was that the depth Wasserstein was surely reaching for -- depth of character When I first read this play, in my early 20s (dear lord, in the early '90s), I remember being blown away by it. It felt slightly transgressive then -- the conversations about sex and gendered power dynamics. Returning to it all these years later, however, Uncommon Women no longer feels like a revelation. In fact, it often seems a little silly, and definitely outdated. My overall impression, re-reading the play in 2019, was that the depth Wasserstein was surely reaching for -- depth of character as well as depth of sociopolitical commentary -- didn't quite make it onto the page. It seems to me that this is one play that hasn't aged well.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    The introduction to one edition of Wasserstein plays said that her plays are funny on stage and serious on the page and that is a very accurate description, though I would say that even funny plays read more seriously in general. Maybe it has something to do with the concerted effort of the imagination to elaborate upon the scene and character cues while reading a play? At any rate, this was a great satire of the post-college transition as experienced by women who had more choices with how to li The introduction to one edition of Wasserstein plays said that her plays are funny on stage and serious on the page and that is a very accurate description, though I would say that even funny plays read more seriously in general. Maybe it has something to do with the concerted effort of the imagination to elaborate upon the scene and character cues while reading a play? At any rate, this was a great satire of the post-college transition as experienced by women who had more choices with how to live it than ever before.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    "Kate: Gross-me-out!" "Rita: ...Our entire being is programmed for male approval. Now, I, on the other hand, want abandonment. I want to do it with everything: dogs, cats, trees, bushes, ashtrays, children, light bulbs, shoe boxes..." "Rita: ...He's going to become my Leonard Woolf." "Rita: I'll give you a vasectomy if you give me one." "Rita: ...If I could be any one of us, first I would be me. That's me without any embarrassment or neurosis--and since that's practically impossible, my second choic "Kate: Gross-me-out!" "Rita: ...Our entire being is programmed for male approval. Now, I, on the other hand, want abandonment. I want to do it with everything: dogs, cats, trees, bushes, ashtrays, children, light bulbs, shoe boxes..." "Rita: ...He's going to become my Leonard Woolf." "Rita: I'll give you a vasectomy if you give me one." "Rita: ...If I could be any one of us, first I would be me. That's me without any embarrassment or neurosis--and since that's practically impossible, my second choice is, I'd like to be you."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    "I guess everythings all right here. I just like being under my coat. Last week when I was riding the bus back from Yale andcovering myself with it, I thought I had finally made it into a Salinger story. Only, I bated the bus, college, my boyfriend, and my parents. The only thing really nice was the coat. I take that back about my parents." I love holly so much. She is so much like Lena dunham. I don't care. I love it. "I guess everythings all right here. I just like being under my coat. Last week when I was riding the bus back from Yale andcovering myself with it, I thought I had finally made it into a Salinger story. Only, I bated the bus, college, my boyfriend, and my parents. The only thing really nice was the coat. I take that back about my parents." I love holly so much. She is so much like Lena dunham. I don't care. I love it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    leslie

    If this is the first place you ever hear of this play, I hope you read it anyway. I think it's important in understanding the different shadings of "feminism" that are proliferated in our culture. Wasserstein wrote very funny characters. If this is the first place you ever hear of this play, I hope you read it anyway. I think it's important in understanding the different shadings of "feminism" that are proliferated in our culture. Wasserstein wrote very funny characters.

  16. 4 out of 5

    TrumanCoyote

    A bit cutesy and filled with dialogue that is encapsulations. And too many lines beginning with "Sometimes I feel as if..." or "Sometimes I think I should have..." But well-meaning; has heart. Probably likely to seem a bit canned due to the topicality. A bit cutesy and filled with dialogue that is encapsulations. And too many lines beginning with "Sometimes I feel as if..." or "Sometimes I think I should have..." But well-meaning; has heart. Probably likely to seem a bit canned due to the topicality.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Whittemore

    I want to follow all of these young women for pages and pages and pages. They're so specific! Who are they, what will become of them, is any of this what they imagined? All this unknowing would probably still resonate with Millenials. Cute. I want to follow all of these young women for pages and pages and pages. They're so specific! Who are they, what will become of them, is any of this what they imagined? All this unknowing would probably still resonate with Millenials. Cute.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    Enjoyed the content of the read, but wanted more drama.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rukhsar

    I need to read this book for school I hope to be able to finish it in the right time

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aleigha

    Socially conscious and intelligent. Not my cup of tea on the writing forefront. This is a play especially meant to be seen, not read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Havens

    Looking forward to seeing the TV special :)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz Bernardo

    Such a great story about early career women dealing with getting an education and moving into the real world. So relevant to girls today and absolutely beautiful.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelley

    It made me laugh and cry at the exact same moment.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angela Cuéllar

    pooled ink Reviews: Ya know what? It was pretty good. Read my review here: http://pooledink.com/2015/07/13/uncom... pooled ink Reviews: Ya know what? It was pretty good. Read my review here: http://pooledink.com/2015/07/13/uncom...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    It's of its time but is pretty vital in its portrayal of women in the 1970's really waking up to what they can be in a world that tells them to expect less. It's of its time but is pretty vital in its portrayal of women in the 1970's really waking up to what they can be in a world that tells them to expect less.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fishsanwitt

    stamped

  27. 4 out of 5

    Saira

    "When we're forty we can be pretty amazing." A timely read. I want to see this produced one day. "When we're forty we can be pretty amazing." A timely read. I want to see this produced one day.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Not Wasserstein's best play but interesting characters nonetheless- Not Wasserstein's best play but interesting characters nonetheless-

  29. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    This was a play I always wanted to see, but that didn’t happen (yet),so reading it was my second best choice. The play depicts a very important time (the mid-1970s) of change in expectations and opportunities for women, with the past still tugging, especially in the voice of the male narrator, and reminding us there’s a long way to go. Eight college friends/acquaintances meet eight years after graduating from Mount Holyoke College, and then there is a flashback to their senior year there. The w This was a play I always wanted to see, but that didn’t happen (yet),so reading it was my second best choice. The play depicts a very important time (the mid-1970s) of change in expectations and opportunities for women, with the past still tugging, especially in the voice of the male narrator, and reminding us there’s a long way to go. Eight college friends/acquaintances meet eight years after graduating from Mount Holyoke College, and then there is a flashback to their senior year there. The women represent widely different ambitions, and here, within the intimacy of this group, you are privy to their desires, insecurities, talents, and rivalries. As a student at this same institution in this very time period, I identified with much of the trappings and quirks of student life there. The characters are like a slice of personalities which felt so familiar, none alike, each with a mind of her own and trying to make sense of the choices available after graduation. I keep wondering if or how this play would resonate with younger women. The characters seem pretty timeless to me, though many of their issues seem rooted in the 70s and early 80s.

  30. 5 out of 5

    nicolette

    4.5 // dear friend directed this play (INSANE!!) and it made me actually excited for the future/uni and onwards

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