Friday, August 10, 2012

First, you bite your nails

Hey - let's get something straight.

I'm not all that excited about telling my own, true story - on these pages, or anywhere else.  I'm a playwright.  I don't do memoir.  I do comedy.

So when the Minnesota History Theatre first approached me with the idea of writing about the horrendous sexism I faced during my early years as one of the first women in the Master of Divinity program at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS), I demured.

We were normal.

 I could write it funny.  I could write it wild.  But could I write it true?

I'm sure going to try.

My new play - GOD GIRL- is a comedy/drama stroll down memory lane. 

The play explores my experiences as a member of the PTS class of 1979.  We were the first with a large population of women; thirty one percent. 

Prior to our class, only a handful of odd, crazy female pioneers were admitted. 

Those poor things; imagine classrooms where you are the only woman in a cloud of men.  Now, imagine all the men are professionally religious.  Get it?

When we were admitted, those poor women were so happy to see us they offered to clean our dorm rooms to make certain we would stay.

They loved us, I think, because we were so normal.  We were happy women - great friends to each other.  Few of us - only a few - were crazy, right wing-nuts.  None of my friends were fundamentalists.   Some were agnostic - attractive, critical thinkers. 

We dressed in cool, groovy clothes and jogged in the afternoon.   We practiced yoga and formed "consciousness raising groups."

We decided, as a group, we would not have sex with any man at Princeton. 

Princeton SEMINARY, that is.

But who wants to hear about those good old, bad old days?

Hard story to tell - harder to live through

As tough as it was to live through those awful times, they are excruciating to remember.

These days, I'm writing (what I hope to be) the final version of this play - and for the first time, I'm revealing that I attended PTS as a divorced woman.

Yup.

A divorced woman, in 1975, seeking a credential to be a Presbyterian pastor.

I thought long and hard.

In those days,  I thought long and hard before I revealed the awful secret about myself.

A divorced woman might not have a place at the table.  Churches were known to release, shame and humiliate men who went through divorces.  What would they do to a woman, all ready tainted?

The truth, and nothing but the truth - so help me You Know Who. 

I've been working on this play for over three years.

The first version was a full-tilt-boogie musical; book and lyrics by Yours Truly.

The GOD GIRLS were a kick line of female seminarians.  Each had a story to tell.

Think; A Chorus Line - set at Princeton.

The second version was a free-wheeling drama; telling the ugly story of the dark, underbelly of the seminary leadership.  A tale of child abuse, incest, corruption and greed so ugly, the History Theatre pleaded with me to change directions.
 
 My final version is so close to the bone it hurts.  The truth.  Nothing but the truth.  With a little humor to help the medicine go down.

I hope you will like it. 








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