Happy Birthday Wanda June began life as a play by Kurt Vonnegut in October 1971 at New York’s Theater de Lys. The play was Vonnegut’s first attempt at a stage work. Written to protest the Vietnam War in 1970, the play blends the sacred and the profane to produce off-the-wall and strangely funny satires.
Wanda’s plot is based loosely on the Greek legends of Odysseus and Penelope – it involves the unexpected return of a mercenary career solider/hunter named Harold Ryan and his wife, Penelope. When Harold left Penelope, she was a ditzy carhop; when he returns after eight years lost in the Amazon, he finds that she has gone to college, majored in English lit and changed her attitude about the macho man she married.