Knowing she had an interesting story to tell, Doris approached The Playwrights' Center and worked with affiliated writer Deborah Yarchun. Deborah wrote Doris' story as an engaging one-woman show with direct address to the audience, bouncing back and forth between "the pickle story" and other significant moments in Doris' life. She describes herself as possessing a series of jars that hold the important things in her life - baking, her upbringing, social justice, and of course, pickles. When Doris entered her pickles in the "other" category at the State Fair, the judges disqualified them because they didn't understand the traditional Kosher salt brine pickles, because they're different than the pickles they usually see. Which is when pickles become a symbol for a whole lot more, and Doris becomes a bit of a local hero.**
I attended the show at the Target Stage at Harriet Island (the same place I saw 25 Questions last summer) on a chilly and drizzly afternoon that felt more like mid-March than late May. But that didn't stop Sally Wingert, or the sold out audience. Sally really makes Doris come alive and feel like a real person. You know how people say "I'd watch them read the phone book?" Well, I'd happily watch Sally Wingert eat a pickle, and I did. She's on a bare stage with just a couple of jars (and pickles) as props, but she manages to make it feel like a warm and full experience. The show is well-paced under director Craig Johnson, with a light and funny tone but not without some more serious moments. When Sally took her bow at the end she commended us for being a great Minnesota audience - watching theater outdoors in the cold. What's more Minnesotan than that?!
The outcome of Doris' quest (no spoilers here) matters less than the fact that she spoke up for herself and her heritage, and opened some eyes at the State Fair to the fact that Minnesotans are more diverse than their categories allowed for. It's an inspirational story to be yourself, honor your traditions, cook your own food, and be proud of it.
Sold out performances of The Pickle continue at parks and private homes around the Cities through June 20. Follow Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company for more opportunities.
|"It's chutzpah that puts the cherry on the spoon."|
(illustration by Becca Hart)