By Jerry Smith
Created 04/07/2012 - 00:26
Submitted by Jerry Smith on Sat, 04/07/2012 - 00:26
A former Northfielder, Kristine Holmgren has served as a pastor, newspaper columnist and commentator for "All Things Considered," before becoming a playwright. (Photo courtesy of Kristine Holmgren)
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my whole life,” said Holmgren, with the exception of the times her now grown-up children were little. “That was fun, too.”
She said that she used to write for youth group pageants in her congregation, but never thought of herself as a playwright. Living in Pierce County, Wisconsin, she observed the issues popping up around her — poverty, labor issues — and those were reflected in her plays.
When she left a corporate job in 2008 and spent months hunting for a job, she decided to also spend time doing something she liked — writing plays. Holmgren saw the impact of the recession. People were struggling over lost income and fuel costs, trying to make ends meet. Those things find their way into her writing.
“Paper Daddy” is set in Northfield and centers on Charlie, a divorced woman in her late 50s who rents out rooms in her house to pay the mortgage. She is given control of her ex-husband’s ashes and has to decide what to do with them. Charlie’s daughter comes home for the memorial.
Holmgren said that the play raises questions pertaining to social struggles — what is a man’s role if the economy is failing and he can’t provide for his family? Is it always possible to start over, or do some things just end?
Libby Glimsdal, theater director for the Northfield Arts Guild, said that Holmgren invited her to a staged reading of “Paper Daddy” a couple of years ago at Theatre in the Round in Minneapolis. Glimsdal brought her kids along for the show.
“My kids and I all absolutely loved it,” she said.
Glimsdal asked for copies of the script and passed them out to members of the theater committee.
“Everyone who read it loved it,” she said.
Glimsdal said that Holmgren crafted the dialogue carefully to accurately reflect each character’s background. The dialogue and relationships feel real, too.
“The way that the characters talk is the way that people really talk,” said Glimsdal.
Holmgren, of course, is happy to hear that people like her work. She has continued to write plays since completing “Paper Daddy,” which will also be performed in Columbia, Mo. Her play “Sweet Truth,” based in Northfield as well, is expected to hit the stage in Columbia in 2013. “The God Girl” will be performed at the History Theatre next year. Her current project is a play titled, “Growing up Goodrich.”
“I feel very humbled by the way my plays have been received,” she said.
She isn’t nervous to hand them over to a cast, crew and director, who each bring their own influences to the characters and performances.
“April 13 will be a very exciting night for me,” she said.
She attended a rehearsal earlier this week. Glimsdal said that she has been very supportive through the process.
Jacqueline A. Pavek covers the arts and culture for the Northfield News. She can be reached at 507-645-1117. Follow her on Twitter @JackiePavek.