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UND teacher's one-act play on North Dakota women's suffrage to air on North Dakota Public Radio

Kathy Coudle-King's play, "Persistence," recounts state leaders' 52-year struggle for women's right to vote.

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Kathy Coudle-King, of Grand Forks, revisits a journal of hers from 1997. Coudle-King has been journaling regularly for nearly 20 years and uses it as way to "dump" all of her daily stresses and anxieties before she goes to bed. Shown here in 2013, Coudle-King is resigning her position as executive director of Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre and took a full-time position teaching position in the UND English Department this past fall. JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD
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A one-act radio play, “Persistence,” by Kathy Coudle-King, a UND faculty member, will air on North Dakota Public Radio at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, and two other times over the next month.

The play, presented by the North Dakota Woman Suffrage Centennial Committee, is a historical depiction of the fight for women’s right to vote in North Dakota.

“It’s history told with humor and drama,” said Coudle-King.

The play also will be aired 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, and 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 10. It will be posted online after its final airing.

It features two leaders of the suffrage movement in the state: Elizabeth Preston Anderson and Linda Slaughter. In the play’s production, they are brought back to life to narrate the 52-year struggle, along with several others who affected it: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, UND alumna and instructor Cora Eaton Smith and “Big Alex” McKenzie.

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Coudle-King, a senior lecturer in the UND English department, wrote the play in consultation with Barbara Handy-Marchello, former UND history faculty member, and Susan Wefald, the first woman to serve on the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Bringing this play to the public has been an exercise in persistence, according to Coudle-King in a news release.

“We really wanted to tour the stage play in 2020 to commemorate the centennial, but the pandemic had other plans. Fortunately, I was working with some very persistent women (Wefald and Handy-Marchello) who do not give up easily. They made the radio play possible through their persistence, and I thank them for their effort.”

Coudle-King, who stepped down last year after many years as executive director of the Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre, has taught writing at UND since 1994. She earned a master of arts degree in English at UND in 1993 and holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University.

More information on how “Persistence” landed on Prairie Public is available at www.coudle-king.com/blog . The production is supported by the estate of Carolyn Pickard Handy and a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which received funding from the state Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Related Topics: RADIO
Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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