Wadena Playwright Project

The Wadena Playwright Project was an intensive, week-long program with Wadena County teens and seniors that resulted in an original theater piece based on oral history interviews.

Wadena Playwright Project
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See what people had to say about this project!

"[I enjoyed] learning about some of Wadena’s history. I am so used to learning about the country’s history, so it was nice to hear stories about the town I’ve lived in my whole life."

"I absolutely loved it! What a wonderful tribute to the history of this area. The students portrayed the people very well."

"It was wonderful! I am so happy to see a collaborative effort between theatre artists, historians, kids, and seniors. This is such a rich venture. Thank you and keep it up!"

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Wadena Playwright Project Wadena Playwright Project Wadena Playwright Project Wadena Playwright Project

See the original script that was created:  PDF document

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In partnership with the Wadena County Historical Society and the Wadena Public Library, teens participated in oral history training and acting workshops, conducted oral history interviews with eleven county seniors and historians, and worked with a playwright to create an original theater piece based on their interviews. The interviews delved into themes of childhood during the Depression, experiences in World War II, building a life after the war, and overcoming hardships in many forms. Though separated by generations, the seniors and teens shared the common experience of living in Wadena County and could see how much and - in some cases how little - has changed in the past century. The week culminated in a dramatic reading of the teens’ script held at the historic Wadena Memorial Auditorium.

Youth Participants: Hope, Avery, Angie, Yalonda, Tareyn

Elder Participants: John Crandall, Marian Derby, Robert & Cecilia Sommars, Ruby Lynk, Robert Zosel, Roger Folkestad, Jack Graba, Jerry Schermerhorn, Jerry Miller, Joseph Spangler, Lorraine Jacobs

For more information: Contact Project Manager Maren Levad at maren.levad@mnhs.org or 651-259-3480.

Background on Wadena
Wadena County was originally named by one of the first settlers, Augustus Aspinwall. The county was formally organized in 1873 with Wadena as the county seat. The major industry of the area is dairy farming, with several creameries and cheese factories there. For more information about the area, please visit the Wadena County Historical Society website.


Minnesota Playwriting Resources

August Wilson, Minnesota Playwrite, Minnesota 150 Wiki

Minnesota History Magazine: Plays for Pioneers: German Theater in Minnesota

The Restive Relationship of Drama and History

Playhouse for Pioneers

The Playwrights’ Center


Project Details

Date: July 2010
Partner(s): Sandi Pratt, Wadena County Historical Society; Nelson Inz; Amy Hunter; Laura Spilman, Wadena Library; Maren Levad, Minnesota Historical Society, Project Manager
Location: Wadena, MN

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