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Showing posts from 2012

GOD GIRL -The History Theatre

Opens February 7, 015 God Girl by Kristine Holmgren directed by Ron Peluso Princeton Theological Seminary, 1975. The war in Vietnam is over, the women’s liberation movement is in full swing, and idealistic Kris Holmgren joins the first large population of women seeking ordination into the Presbyterian ministry. Will she survive the cynical, sinister secrets of her new career? Join the conversation Box Office Hours Tuesdays–Fridays: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays when there is an evening performance scheduled: 4 p.m. through intermission 1 hour before scheduled performances through intermission Purchase online or call 651.292.4323 Directions 30 East Tenth Street St. Paul, Minnesota 55101 View Larger Map © 2012 History Theatre. All rights reserved.

Following tragedy - What NOT to say to your children

The phone rang at 3 A.M. I jumped because I know the truth. Only tragedy phones after midnight. "Pastor Kristine," the anxious mother cried, "Henry won't come out of the closet.  And he has a knife." Four days prior, six-year-old Henry attended his grandfather's funeral. I remembered - the little boy seem odd -  he smiled too much - giggled too much - and although he held fast to his mother's hand, Henry seemed disconnected from the tragedy of the death experience. Something, I thought at the time, was not right with little Henry. "He wants to die."  "He wants to die," his mother said through the phone.  "He says he wants to be with his grandfather." Moments later, when I knocked on the closet door, Henry told me the same thing.  If gramps was living now with Jesus, he said - and heaven was a wonderful place - a better place than this place -  why couldn't he be there? Why did he have to live far

Heartbreak at the holidays - Five ways to cope

Trust me - I know. Heartbreak over the holidays is worse than a Lake Superior swim in October. One big difference - a cold dunk in Gitchie Goomie numbs the senses. Being dumped in December is a "feeling" frenzy. Hallmark commercials break your heart.  The question - "What are your plans for New Year's eve?" makes you tear-up. And "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is enough to make you reach for the cyanide. Even so, you can do this thing. Here are the top five tactics for making it through the holiday with a broken heart. 1. Face up.  Grow up.  Man up. Pain can make us misbehave.  Drink too much, drive too fast, fall asleep at work. You might be tempted to inhale four dozen krum kakke in one sitting.  You might find yourself attracted to that awful woman in the cubicle next to you - the one who keeps asking you to go to a Scientology lecture. Or, you might develop an addiction to Drambuie over vanilla ice cream. None of th

Beyond frostbite - or, how to survive a Minnesota winter

Come a little closer Bunky, and I'll tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There are secrets to living well on the tundra. Secrets known only the wise, the withered and the wistful. And global warming has sheltered you, my darling twenty-something, from the truth about Minnesota winter. Because, my little Bunkster, your childhood was snowless.  As a consequence, you've grown up expecting that a flannel shirt alone will provide - that long underwear is only for the sick, old, crazy or stupid. It's not your fault, snoogie. Even so, I cannot allow you to wallow in stupidity. And so, my little punkin' - it's time you faced the truth about Minnesota. Lean in, Bunky - as your mommy shares the top five skills necessary for surviving an Old Fashioned Minnesota Winter. # 5 -  Accept.    The first step is acknowledging you are powerless over snow. Snow like this - snow that blocks the door to the deck and freezes shut the

The amnesia of Christmas

When I was a little girl, no one suffered in our house during Christmas. My mom was a member of the Grand Avenue State Bank's  "Christmas Club." If you were lucky enough to belong, the bank took your Christmas Club account money every week and refused to give it back to you -  until December 1st.  Housewives in my neighborhood loved this - because it ensured they had enough to buy their families a wonderful holiday. My mom loved it best.  Without the club, she knew she would forget to save. "It's amnesia," she said.  "I forget Christmas is coming!" My mom managed to deposit a dollar each week into her Christmas Club account - and let me tell you - when I was a little girl, $52 bought a lot of Christmas for our little family.  My own personal, private "elf"    And Christmas in our house needed every penny. My dad was a Linotype operator for the Pioneer Press. It was  good job, a decent job, a well-paid job.  But Chris

What happened to Kristine??

Hang in there!  Don't forget me!  The playwright schedule is a bit overwhelming right now. . but I expect to post new insights soon. Have a fabulous holiday season!

The hard sell on marriage

 Off I went last night - excited to phone "undecided" voters and persuade them to vote NO on the marriage amendment. Unless you've been under a rock for the past six months, you know what I'm talking about. This past year, the Minnesota State Legislature passed the following amendment to the state Constitution.  The voters, however, are the ones who must pull the trigger to give it power. "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"   I say "no." Not because I think gays and lesbians should marry if they choose - although I do. Not because I believe in polygamy or bestiality or whatever other weirdness the Religious Right promises will ensue - although I don't. I say "no" because I don't want my constitution messing with this part of the social contract between men and women.  I like things the way th

Imaginary worlds are the best

A new play is a new planet - populated by the strange and the ordinary. Pulling a story to stage draws down the abstract and concrete parts of the creative process. A tale cannot be told without a decent setting. A character cannot initiate or respond without good, strong motivation.  And a plot cannot develop without an underlying lesson. I love writing plays. More than critical, social commentary, writing for the theatre offers an opportunity to review, revise and revisit reality. For over ten years,  I paid serious, important attention to media - listening for inspiration, seeking a hook upon which to hang a critical view of my world. Writing a play is the direct opposite. Now, instead of paying attention, I ignore the news.  Instead of seeking to criticize, I yearn to inspire. It's a loftier calling. Granted - it makes a woman a little crazy.  Imagine, if you can, what my day is like. I rise early, walk my adorable dog, do what must be done around my

The one who got away

All the leaves are brown - and the sky is grey. You know the drill - and I've got the funky chicken woman blues.  My old boy friend Jim Anderson, was the first to call them out for what they are. Jim was a University of Minnesota summa cum laude graduate and a fabulous pick-up hockey player. I loved him for almost a decade.  He was a classic Minnesota boy - blond and blue eyed.  Everyone thought we were brother and sister.  And honey, the man knew how to call-out a funky mood when he met one. I remember one particular October afternoon as the blues began to overwhelm me - Jim took my face in his powerful hands,  looked me in the eye and said - "You are as funky as an old chicken woman." He, of course, was right.  He was always right. I was too young to understand how rare it was to meet a man so right. He was so right I had to walk away from him  - and marry someone wrong. Funky chicken woman blues I have the funky chicken woman blues. 

Those who can, can't help themselves.

Maybe it's the changing of the light - the coming of winter.  Maybe it's Obama - maybe it's my hunger for his extinguished fire. Maybe it's because Sheila Shanley has been dead for ten years - and my mother has been dead for almost twenty. Whatever the reason, during this past week, I've been miserable.  No.  Not miserable.   The word miserable is too strong. During this past week, I've been creatively challenged. What we don't know CAN hurt us.  Of course - like most funky times - I suffered in ignorance.  I had no idea what was troubling me -  perhaps something material, mechanical or maniacal.   I thought I could fix it by raking leaves.  Mopping the kitchen floor.  Throwing on four loads of laundry.  Reading a good book. I began to think the root of the funk was financial.  I thought I should get a part time job - pull down some cash. I did all that.  The funk hung fast.  Until today.  Today, I went back to work.  I'm working on m

An Election Day of "NO" When We Mean "YES" - Same Sex Marriage and Voter Freedom

Unless you're intellectually challenged, educationally stunted, emotionally vague or dispositionally stupid, you understand the positive message behind the negative word. Peppered around Minnesota, orange and blue signs encourage you to vote "no" on two constitutional initiatives. Counter intuitive - yes?  (Or - do I mean, "Counter intuitive - no?") One might think "YES" is a positive thing.  Think again.  Sometimes (in this case!) your YES shuts down your freedoms - and mine. Two initiatives - one to limit the freedom to "marry" to one man and one woman. The other - to insist that everyone who casts a ballot in Minnesota carry photo identification.  I'm not a lesbian (although, if you GOOGLE my name, you'll see how many times I am labeled such!) and I'm carry a photo I.D.  So - technically, I have no dog in this fight. I am, however, free.  And I hope to stay free as long as possible. (Granted - one day my adorab


Audiences are not stupid.  They buy a ticket, go to the theater with one purpose in mind; entertainment. As the playwright, your first (and only) job is to entertain.  If you write well, your work might also inspire and educate. But do not be confused; if your audience is not first entertained, your play is dead. Playwrights are clever little murders. We, unknowing, kill our characters, our plot-lines, our scripts as casually as you slop together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your five-year-old. FIRST RULE - LET YOUR PLAY LIVE! Below are three writing devices that feel like script writing. They're not.  Instead, they're cheap, easy ways to murder your script.  Any time you find yourself “writing” any of the following devices into your work, stop.  Replace them with actual writing, and your script will live.   We don't need no stinkin' narrator.   1.  A SCHLOCKY NARRATOR  –  Hey, we don’t need no stinkin' narrator. True - a

Why I continue to dream

  Fear is a liar.  Running from fear gives power to lies.   We needn't run.  All we need do is believe in our dreams, and the lie is defeated.   We are Americans.  Our dreams are our destiny.   When we believe something - firm and clear - we live as though our beliefs were common reality.  And of course - they soon become so.  This process is not as simple as many believe - because "the liar" is ever-present.  The past two weeks, our nation has been over-exposed to the political agendas (or lack, therein) of those who wish to be our national leaders. Our trickle-down economy has failed; our financial institutions have turned against us and our Capitalism has matured to mediocre meanness.   During awful times  it is often comforting to be lied to - to blame the stranger, the immigrant, the African American, the women,  the irresponsible young, the lazy, the poor.  But blame leads to fear - and fear is a liar.  Living with lies makes us shallo

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

The last homecoming queen

I worshiped her for her hair. She was a tall woman - taller than most of us. And beautiful. Naturally beautiful. Her name was Sandy.   She was a senior at Macalester College, and I was only a freshman; a chubby-cheeked, trying-too-hard freshman. Those were tough days for me.  My mother was a single parent and we didn't  have money for dorm life.  So, like a few other geeky nerd girls at Macalester,  I attended classes during the day  - and lived at home. That wasn't the end of my suffering.  I had other problems; chin acne, front teeth too big for my adolescent jaw. And I still hadn't found the right bra to arrest my jiggle when I walked across campus.  It was 1969, and I was working hard on figuring out who I was and what I would do with my life. Even then, even with all the silly post-adolescent distractions, I knew I wanted to die leaving behind something better.  I wanted my college years to count - I wanted to become some one, some thing, some

An old song with new babies!

Blood in the aisles - the NRA's shame

 Don't talk to me about guns - I grew up around guns. My father had a gun shop in our basement where he rebuilt rifles and carved gun stocks. I shot my first antelope in Wyoming when I was only sixteen-years-old.  Mallards, pheasants - my brothers, my dad and I hunted them all. My dad belonged to three "gun clubs" in the Twin Cities.  He taught my brother and me skeet and clay shooting. So, yes.  I know about guns. And I know the truth about multiple assault weapons. Assault weapons have one purpose - and one purpose only. Assault weapons are designed for combat - for killing human beings. Assault weapons do not belong in our American cities. They are weapons of war - pure and simple. Not that long ago, they were illegal.  A brief history of the assault weapons ban The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) (or Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 ,

It never occurred to me. . .

It never occurred to me - never for a moment - that I would be a sixty-three-year-old single woman. But - here I am - I'm still adorable - still charming. And alone. Recently I realized I have been single as long as I was married. I remember when I thought I'd remarry in a hurry. It never occurred to me that I would sleep alone, eat dinner alone, go to the movies alone - for the rest of my life. No.  Not me.  I was not supposed to fade away - I was born to live smack-dab in the middle of everything -  a deep, strong, important life - with a wonderful man who loves me. And so it never occurred to me - not for single moment - that I wouldn't marry again. The realization came slowly. I dated for five years.  I wrote a book about it -  "AFTER HIS HEART: The Foolish Women's Guide  to Dating After Fifty." My new play SWEET TRUTH is based on my brief soiree into the wild world of mid-life dating. And I discovered something along the way.  Men a

No such thing as "bored"

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as "bored." "Get out from underfoot"  When I was a kid "bored" was a four letter word. In my house, if I used the "b" word, I had to clean the bathrooms for the entire summer. Nope.  Summertime at the Holmgren house had one rule only.  If you were a kid - you better damn well keep yourself occupied. That's why, every summer I can remember, I  organized a Summer Day School for the neighborhood kids.  We conducted classes on my mom's front porch. Art lessons, a little music, a whole bunch of paper crafts - and before the close of each day - we always played their favorite game. We called it - "Pied Piper." Every school kid was issues a tonette in 3rd Grade. And I, of course, was always, always the "piper." A little bit of terror never hurt anybody. Tooting "The Star Spangled Banner" on my tonette - the instrument every St. Paul school