CivicMedia/MN LEGACY SPECIAL: CIRCLE OF THE WITCH: 1970s Feminist Theatre Collective - Part 1

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On-air date: 
Mon, 08/26/2013
Listen to or download this episode here: 

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In addition to our weekly public affairs program, TruthToTell, CivicMedia produces documentaries on culturally and politically important Minnesota and Twin Cities organizations of historical note, originating as “Minneculture” specials on KFAI Radio and financed primarily by Minnesota’s Legacy Fund. Our planned series recalling the Vietnam era’s activist 1970s in Minneapolis-St. Paul and their influence on our political and cultural landscape starts with a two-part retrospective of the collectivist Circle of the Witch Feminist Theatre troupe, a premiere change agent of early 1970s Minnesota, presenting homegrown plays and dealing out lessons in women’s social and economic change. Parts One and Two first air on Monday and Wednesday at 7:30PM on KFAI FM 90.3, 106.7 and streaming live at

These were plays, sketches and multimedia presentations that jerked a tear or two or took a good bite out of conscience and traditional sensibilities about the roles and pigeonholes to which women were so often assigned back then. Most say the change to real equity has, like the issue of race in America, been far slower than it should have been. Comedy and tragedy shared the stage.

The “ouch” musical satire of “Sexpot Follies” was met with the occupational hazards for women and the internalized conflicts between mothers and daughters of “Lady in a Corner”, or the history-tracing and often sad “Time is Passing” and the abstractions of the “The Changebringers.”

Many of the women that formed the collective and shared all its original playwriting, composing and performing duties also lived communally with other women, and some men as well, including this series’ co-producer, Tom O’Connell, a freshly retired political science professor from Metropolitan State University and CivicMedia’s Board Chair.

Andy Driscoll wrote, produced, recorded and edited this Special.

Minneculture Producer is Nancy Sartor

The four women here of the founding seven members formed the core in what would become a company of some 24 rotating cast members and creators, and as you will hear, took their often biting and pointed satirical sketches to college campuses across the state:

On-air guests: 

Sandy Pappas helped found the small company. She started life as an actress and theatre major, but her politics simmered and ultimately boiled over into running for elected office. For 27 years, Sandy’s held state Legislative office, the last 21 as a Minnesota state senator, and, now, President of the Minnesota Senate.




Company co-founder and Pennsylvania transplant Susan Gust would co-found a construction and community development company here at age 23, then start the ReUse Center in Minneapolis after working on economic and environmental justice issues. Today, Susan teaches and consults on social justice through Community-based Research.



Circle of the Witch company member Jo Haberman, a near North Minneapolis native, has devoted the last 30-odd years to community organizing and collaboration, especially working with young people, and now with the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board.




Another Circle of the Witch original, Micaela (Mickie) Massimino, arrived here from the East Coast for her baccalaureate studies in feminist art at the University of Minnesota, jumped into the theatre troupe, ultimately departing for journalism jobs and college teaching back east before settling into her present job as an editor for the Sacramento Bee.