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Wagner, Jane

Entry updated 13 September 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1935-    ) US stage director, screenwriter and author, best known for her work in collaboration with her wife the stand-up comedian and actor Lily Tomlin (1939-    ); of their work together, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (first performed 1985; 1986), filmed as The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (1991) (see Theatre), is of sf interest, in particular through its spoofish take on SETI. Plausibly readable on the page as a poem in the form of dramatic monologue (see Poetry), it is essentially a one-person show for Tomlin, in which she plays several roles, primarily a "mad" bag-lady who serves as a conduit-with-attitude for the Aliens attempting to understand human life. Understood as a heavily theatricalized sequence of metaphorical riffs, the play is moderately effective, especially in the early scenes set in New York; but the performance proves far more coherent and the Satire is more pointed – even in the less adventurous second act set in California – when the bag-lady's experiences are presented literally. [JC]

Jane Wagner

born Morristown, Tennessee: 26 February 1935

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