The Viking and The Gazelle is a romantic comedy about the budding courtship of a Twin Cities couple with the role of race thrust upon their relationship. African-American Michelle was born and raised on Chicago’s Southside, while White Robert is from the Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins. Sparks fly in the hearts of the new couple, yet a happy ending is no foregone conclusion. With a cast of seven characters overall, Michelle and Robert find love’s battlefield surprisingly fraught with the biases of society, including with their trusted confidants; not to mention Robert’s deep dark secret.
In a space and time in the land of “Minnesota Nice” where racial bias is seemingly diminishing, tough and relevant conversations erupt in this wonderful play that, though pointedly frank, does not take itself too seriously. Ultimately, The Viking and The Gazelle is a play about having the courage to express who we are in a world that expects conformity, and the tensions created by the clash of cultures within an inter-racial relationship; all wrapped within a romantic comedy. You’ll find yourself laughing, while questioning your own assumptions about race in America at the same time.
Introducing the Writers/Producers
Dr. William Bengtson and Suzanne Bengtson are two locally based Minneapolis new co-writers and co-producers who began their inter-racial romantic relationship, the loose inspiration for the play, at middle-age in 2011. They have humorously brought their experiences to stage using characters who each represent an amalgamation of actual individuals and society. Marrying in 2014 and maneuvering through a mixed family of their seven children and eight grandchildren, the two are leveraging their August 2019 Minnesota Fringe debut performances to bring this greatly upgraded script and production to Mixed Blood Theatre this holiday season.
Suzanne M. Bengtson
Artistic – Producer – Playwright, The Waterfront Productions
Suzanne’s previous theater performance experience includes The Honey dripper and Dragon Feathers with Urban Spectrum Theater. She also works as an Instructor with Twin Cities Rise where she helps people with unique challenges make career and life transformations.
Dr. William P. Bengtson
President – Producer – Playwright, The Waterfront Productions
Dr. William is Leadership Consultant with Minnesota Leadership Institute and teaches Applied Business courses at the University of Minnesota. He received his doctorate from the University of St. Thomas where his dissertation focused on cultural dynamics affecting teams working in India and the United States.
About The Waterfront Productions
The Waterfront Productions mission is to enhance inter-cultural awareness, understanding, and acceptance through artistic performance.
What they said
Citations from The Viking and The Gazelle stage reading, Playwrights Center, Minneapolis, March 2018
“The Viking and The Gazelle is a powerful engaging play incorporating authentic challenges met head-on with frank discussions, raw emotions, and a surprising level of humor. The lead characters navigate their relationship, overcoming enculturation and “advise” of friends, to achieve what all humans search for…acceptance, respect, and love.”
–Ronald Lien, Hopkins, Minnesota
“We really enjoyed the reading of The Viking and The Gazelle at The Playwrights’ Center! The play had us often laughing, but it also touched on very real racial issues recognizable to our own experiences.”
— Scott and Ekaterina Groves, St. Paul, Minnesota
“I had the privilege of being in the audience during the reading of The Viking and the Gazelle at the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis. I admire the production’s courage to take on this monumental task of bringing to light subject matters across ethnic and racial groups when most people are either afraid or unwilling to talk about them. I look forward to seeing this production come to life on the big stage!”
–Rick Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota