Joanne Westfield

Joanne Westfield, a play by Lew Linde with assistance from his son, Ken, deals with adoption reform in the 1970s and premiered January 20 and 21, 2001 at the Pope County Museum and Historical Society.

Funded in part by the author (a native of Cyrus, Minnesota) and by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council (through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature), the play was presented in the museum's performance space, designed to permit occasional productions of historical significance. Merlin Peterson produced, assisted by Jenny Westphall

The premiere cast was:

Joanne - Judi Morton
Bill - Duffy Morton
Claire - Tammy Olson
Kim - Beth Chapman
Kathy - Rebecca Chapman
Shauna - Rebecca Webb (also the director)
Marsha - Suzanne Vold
Tom - Paul Schoenack
Lois - Laura Olson

As the show begins, the Westfields are a Greendale family who have successfully weathered a nation's turbulent era. Their biggest concern in the fall of 1974 is younger daughter Claire's desire to live off campus. Kim, about to begin her career as a school teacher, has heard it all before and refuses to help her sister plead her case.

Pastor Bill confides in wife Joanne that his morning includes a potentially difficult meeting counseling a family whose teenage daughter is pregnant. The Westfields share a disapproval of abortion but conflict on the subject of adoption. Bill feels it's the best solution; Joanne worries about the emotional stress placed on the relinquishing mother.

Neighbor Kathy shares her own somewhat callous perspective on the pregnancy and Joanne upbraids, her, insisting, "If my parents were that unfeeling..." before catching herself and falling silent.

Kim enters in time to overhear the two women discussing the possibility of Joanne chairing the local social services oversight committee. Kim and Kathy both think that honest, compassionate, wise Joanne would make a good choice.

A few days later, social worker Shauna drops by to persuade Joanne to chair the local welfare advisory council. . . and to inform her of some developments in the area of adoption. Recent legislation permits adopted children who have become adults to seek the identity of their natural parents for the first time in history, and a child Joanne secretly relinquished in 1947 now wants to make contact with her.

Joanne is torn by concerns of what her secret past might do to her family's reputation and her husband's ministry. But she has longed to see her child for almost thirty years and decides she definitely wants a reunion.

Bill agonizes over the situation, concerned about potential disgrace and reassignment, yet devoted to Joanne and her happiness. The couple invites the social worker back over for more information.

Shauna reminds the couple that a reunion can take place in Chicago, where Joanne's daughter, Marsha, now lives. Bill insists that the situation be kept as secret as possible while Joanne wants Kim and Claire involved. The couple agree to think and discuss it some more.

Joanne and Marsha live the day they've dreamed about for years.

At their meeting, the women discuss plans to get their two families together. Marsha asks the question that's been haunting her. "Did you ever think of me?"

The two families prepare to meet. Joanne bonds with her youngest while they prepare refreshments.

Bill preaches on the virtues of this new development in their lives, an extended family that may richly bless their existence, and all the Westfields are prepared for a pleasant evening... until the knock on the door brings their doubts to the surface.

Bill sizes up Tom Sullivan, Marsha's adoptive father, a successful businessman from Chicago who has recently established a warm friendship with Woodie Berg, the man who slept with Joanne on Prom Night almost thirty years ago.

In a guarded moment, Lois Sullivan lets slip the fear of possibly "losing" their only child.

The couples eventually bond and Bill shares with Tom his concerns about meeting Woodie.

Woodie calls to cancel. Everyone tries to explain that the evening has become a celebration of family but even Tom's enticement about seeing Joanne again fails to persuade the guilt-ridden natural father.

The play ends with a toast to people who make joyous, loving moments possible.

The End

The director would like to thank everyone involved in the production for a wonderful experience. Except the dairy consultant, she was really childish.

I'm Rebecca Webb and I can be reached via email at