Bonnie Bossen is 15, loves “Saturday Night Live” and reads Ms. Magazine. She also writes a lot.
So when her mother, Toni, got the job as director of the Mille Lacs Community Theatre’s children’s production for this summer, she gave her a story she had originally completed as an English assignment.
Her mother liked it, and the board of directors for the theatre liked it. So it was transcribed into a script, and the “show was on the road.”
“The Story of Elaine” is being presented this summer to audiences from the Taste of Minnesota celebration in St. Paul to Willow River, totaling eight performances.
The original class assignment was to write an ironic ending to a fairy tale. Bonnie, a student at Ogilvie High School, decided to make the whole story ironic.
So in the town of Levelor, “ ... where men were men and women were seldom noticed,” Bonnie created Elaine, a woman with good looks and a good brain, too.
Elaine is smart, explains Bonnie, and that disrupts the whole kingdom. “I get sick of hearing how boys are so much more intelligent in math and science,” she says. “Elaine solved the kingdom’s water shortage problem and won the jousting contest three years in a row.”
“You get enough that man-rescuing-the-woman stuff,” commented Bonnie. “It’s everywhere, from the time you are a kid to even movies nowadays. I wanted to create a character that broke that stereotype.”
So Bonnie’s Elaine ends up fighting the dragon, saving the prince and winning the reward money, which, says the script, is spent on major farming repairs.
Another stereotype Bonnie wanted to blast was that men and women have relationships based on their attractions to each other as lifemates. In this fairy tale, however, Elaine and the prince do not get married and live happily ever after. Instead, they remain good friends.
Bonnie’s play has been criticized as being sexist, a point she says is made by people who she thinks feel uncomfortable with the switching of roles.
“I don’t mean to say women are better,” Bonnie notes. “But I think kids need to see that we all have gifts. And if you ignore tradition, you may be able to develop a gift to its fullest potential. That’s all Elaine is doing.”
Lesson in love
Bonnie has a gift for writing and sees herself someday being a professional writer. She says she enjoys having written something that may broaden children’s perspectives.
“The whole issue is about love,” states Bonnie, “to love someone even if they don’t fit into a mold. I think kids can learn that easily, if taught.”
“In ‘Catcher in the Rye,’” Bonnie says, “Holden Caulfield says the reason he feels good around children is because kids can’t hold back love; they just have to give it. So I think now is the best time to teach good lessons. If they learn about love now, the whole world is bound to be a better place in the future.”