Andrew Karthage: The Heidi Chronicles

We had an excellent virtual reading (via Microsoft Teams) of Wendy Wasserstein’s Heidi Chronicles. We cast four readers as Heidi, Susan, Peter, and Scoop, and then four more readers served as: 1) Jill/Debbie/Lisa, 2) Fran/Molly/Besty, 3) Becky, Clara, Densie, and 4) April + reading stage directions aloud. We all felt transported back to the time periods of the play.

For me, the scene on the day of a John Lennon vigil in Central Park really took me into a time and place where I’ve never been (1980, as an adult, in NYC, feeling the emotions of the day, and the sadness at his life cut short). I was Peter, so not even in that scene, just hearing the women talk about it was enough. Peter’s scene in the hospital talking about the AIDS epidemic with Heidi in 1987 felt raw and real.

I recommend reading this play for some insight into the changing roles of women and men in society from the 60s to the 80s. Cold reading is an excellent exercise in active empathy.