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2016 Bombeck workshop staged reading
Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End

At Wit's End illustration

From the writers of the smash hit Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins comes a look at one of our country’s most beloved voices, who captured the frustrations of her generation by asking, “If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?” Discover the story behind the award-winning humorist who championed women’s lives with wit that sprang from the most unexpected place of all — the truth.



Barbara ChisholmBARBARA CHISHOLM (Erma Bombeck) is an Austin, Texas-based actress who portrayed Erma Bombeck in the world premiere of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in fall 2015. praised her performance: “Bombeck was known for her humor-filled, if somewhat callous, attitude to her children and family on the page, and Chisholm delivers that humor along with a heavy dose of real emotion.” This is Barbara’s second collaboration with David Esbjornson, who directed her as Molly Ivins in the Austin production of Red Hot Patriot. Regional credits include Constance in Fixing King John with the internationally renowned Rude Mechs; Dr. Gertrude Ladenburger in 33 Variations with eminent pianist Anton Nel; Elena in the world premiere of Steven Dietz’s Shooting Star; Annie Wilkes in the North American premiere of Stephen King’s Misery; and multiple roles in Anne Bogart’s staging of The Women at San Diego Rep. Film and TV roles include the Oscar-nominated Boyhood, Emmy-nominated ABC drama American Crime and Friday Night Lights. She’s been voted Best Actor in the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin Readers Poll three times and received multiple acting honors from the Austin Critics Table and B. Iden Payne Theatre Awards.


Allison EngelALLISON ENGEL (Playwright) has been a reporter for the Des Moines Tribune, San Jose Mercury and Pacific News Service, and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She and her twin Margaret wrote the play Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. She also has been a speechwriter and aide for former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and lieutenant governor Sally Pederson. In Iowa, she was active in the Des Moines Playhouse, serving as president and head of play selection. She recently spent five years as director of communications at the University of Southern California before becoming the associate director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the university. She received an M.A. in screenwriting from USC in 2009. She is married to Scott Kirkpatrick, and they have two children, Miles and Nora. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild.


Margarent EngelMARGARET ENGEL (Playwright) directs the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation and was the managing editor of the Newseum. She and her twin Allison wrote Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. She was a reporter for The Washington Post, Des Moines Register and Lorain Journal and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard. She and Allison wrote Food Finds: America’s Best Local Foods and the People Who Produce Them and helped turn the book into a show for Food Network, where it ran for seven years. She serves on the board of Theatre Washington/Helen Hayes Awards, The Nieman Foundation and chairs the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards board. She and her husband, Bruce Adams, wrote three editions of a travel guide to America’s baseball parks with the help of their children, Emily and Hugh. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild.


Reflections of Erma