I got an email from the Joe Hill fan club earlier this year, asking about a story I wrote in college. The story won a contest, the A. E. Coppard Prize for Long Fiction. Joe Hill was the judge. He was not yet an established writer, much less a bestselling one; his first book wouldn’t come out for several years.
The head of the fan club asked for a copy of the original chapbook with Joe Hill’s introduction, and he also wanted to know if I’d be willing to share the story on the website he runs, The Joe Hill Collection. Apparently I’m peripherally famous.
I only have two personal copies left of the chapbook, but I’ve created a PDF version of the text. The story was originally published as “Raped Diaries”; I later re-titled it “The Diary Thief.”
Joe Hill’s introduction in the chapbook said, “Katherine Glover writes with a care and cool precision that reminds me of Ruth Rendell, and with a bleak, deadpan sense of humor that brings to mind the comic vision of Steven Wright. She is a writer of unmistakable talent, and Raped Diaries is as chilling a debut as you are likely to read anywhere.”
– Raw Sugar, in partnership with Theatre Unbound, commissioned me to write a new comedy for WTF: the Women/Trans/Femme Playwriting Workshop. The play, “Sex, War, and Syphilis,” deals with U.S. government efforts during World War I to protect soldiers by policing young women’s sexuality. It will be produced, along with two other one acts, at the Crane Theater in April, 2018.
– I became a founding member of The Playwright Cabal, “an ambitious group of female-identified professional playwrights who promote the development of new scripted plays in the Twin Cities and one another’s success.” I am also in the process of designing our website.
– I was selected for Nautilus Music-Theater’s 2017 Composer-Librettist Studio — an intensive workshop during which five playwrights and five composers wrote songs for five performers during a two-week period. It was amazing, and radically changed my understanding of what musicals can be.
– I started writing a historical musical about the emotional battles over a Minneapolis antipornography ordinance that divided the feminist movement in the early 1980’s.
We got great reviews all around, with praise for the actors’ comic timing, for director Callie Meiners, and for the script. Some samples:
“The biggest winner, though, is Katherine Glover’s boisterous and nuanced script, which dissects celebrity from multiple angles without missing a comic beat. The literal star-fucking at the heart of the play is certainly not without consequences, but the fallout never lands exactly where – or on whom – we’re trained to expect.” -Ira Brooker, Minnesota Playlist
“Can the setup sustain 42 minutes more? The answer, I’m happy to report, is absolutely yes, with some big belly laughs and a dash of surprisingly intense erotic heat.” -Jay Gabler, City Pages
“More than just your run-of-the-mill wacky romantic comedy.” – Matthew Everett
“But we don’t have all the facts yet.” In nearly every conversation I had during Fringe about the Sean Neely incident, this was the inevitable conclusion. We often segued into debates about censorship in a more general or hypothetical sense, but as to whether Sean Neely’s eviction from the 2016 Minnesota Fringe qualified as censorship, most of us were withholding judgment “until the Fringe files its brief and we have both sides of the story.”
I was on board with this until I read the actual court documents.
It turns out, the Fringe has responded! Neely filed his initial complaint against the Fringe on March 16, 2016, and the Fringe filed its answer on April 19. The Fringe has not yet responded to a later Motion for Judgment, but that’s a separate step of the process; the answer is generally where the defendant lays out its defense and tells its side of the story. And the Fringe’s answer makes it abundantly clear that the festival is defending its right to censor.
When I first heard the news, I hoped there was some mistake. Perhaps someone in the Fringe office had clicked “block” accidentally, out of sheer clumsiness and without even realizing they’d done it. Surely the Minnesota Fringe would never deliberately block a user on Twitter for voicing criticism.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident; my Facebook feed was soon splattered with screenshots of the message, “You are blocked from following @mnfringe and viewing @mnfringe’s Tweets,” all from different people who had expressed doubts about the Fringe’s decision to remove Sean Neely from this year’s festival. Worse, those who then questioned the Fringe’s decision to block people on Twitter, were themselves promptly blocked.
This is unacceptable. It shows a profound disrespect for the Twin Cities independent theater community — and a complete lack of understanding of social media.
Like it or not, the Fringe is part of a community — a passionate, opinionated community of artists and audience members without whom the festival literally could not exist. Decisions about the festival affect all of us, and we are going to talk about these decisions. Obviously we don’t get a vote on festival policy, but similarly, the Fringe does not get to control our conversations.
Pat Harrigan reads an Antonin Scalia dissent about the meaning of golf. Photo by Fringe photographer Alex Wohlheuter.
It is So Ordered, produced by American Civic Forum, featured different people standing in front of a music stand and reading excerpts from notable Supreme Court decisions and dissents, with a bit of context and comedy provided by emcee Matt Kessen. I think it’s a great idea, and important, but I did not expect it to draw more than a modest group of exceptionally civic-minded people.
Instead, we sold out the majority of our shows and wound up getting the sixth extra “Encore” slot that goes to the show in each venue that sells the most tickets.
I read Sonia Sotomayor’s recent bad-ass dissent in Utah v. Strieff (PDF). It includes the line “No one can breathe in this atmosphere,” which gave me chills every time I read it. I’m very proud of this show and looking forward to more projects with American Civic Forum in the future.
Minnesota Fringe audiences gave us an average rating of FIVE STARS!!!! (Click on “Read the Reviews.”) They called us “hilarious,” “marvelous,” “wonderful,” and all sorts of other great things, and one patron said, “I laughed through the entire thing.”
My favorite audience review came from Andrew Troth, who wrote:
A taut, surprising script that uses a whimsical premise to delve into real emotion… underneath the many laughs lies a very worthwhile, non-cliché exploration of relationships.
There was only one negative review, and it addressed my own biggest concern with the script. [NOTE: spoilers ahead.] After praising the actors and director, user Kippler Donovan asked:
…Did Xander Lucas rape Mark? He brought him up to his hotel room even though they were going out for drinks, Mark seemed uncomfortable the whole time until they were liquored up, then gave in. I see some reviews mention “flexible sexuality” but that came at a price. I don’t remember Mark ever saying “no” outright, so maybe consent was there, but it was very murky. All played for laughs? Sexual assault prevails
I have had real concerns about this moment and tried to make Mark’s consent very clear and explicit. The level of drunkenness and the way the scene plays out physically can make a difference, and I do think the script provides enough evidence that Mark is willing, but Xander’s behavior, while I wouldn’t call it assault, is definitely manipulative and predatory.