Donald Arneson
Prior Lake, MN

I have been a teacher, a magazine editor, and a writer of fiction and drama. I have published two children's books, Arnie, Knight of the Day and Doing Something Nice, Inc. and Other Short Plays for Kids. In addition, I have written five plays. Golden Wedding was the winner of the Mid-West Playwrights' Program and was produced at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Prior Lake Players Community Theater. Turkeys of a Feather was a runner-up at Midland Community Theatre McLaren Competition and received praise from Dale Wasserman (Man of La Mancha). Finnegan's Wake was a winner of the Brooklyn Repertory Theatre Playwriting Contest, plus having a reading at the Playwrights' Center. Also it received an honorable mention from Ohio State U., Newark's Annual New Play Contest and was a winner of the Renegade Theatre of Duluth’s New Works Festival, where it was given a staged reading. Two other plays are The Glass Ceiling, a play about a play within a play that is about the restrictive ceiling that keeps women in their place and Happy Hour which takes place at Eden Garden Senior Retirement Haven at that time of day treasured by the elderly residents when they gather for a drink (only one allowed) and sing to piano music.


by Donald Arneson

On the morning following a typical Irish wake, Nora Finnegan is keeping a vigil beside the casket of her beloved husband, Charlie Finnegan. Priest and family friend, Father Keogh, arrives for comfort and prayers. Responding to a question about Charlie’s suffering during a painful, home-bound illness, Nora admits to having been so disappointed with God for allowing Charlie’s suffering to drag on that she decided the Almighty needed a helping hand. The priest is horrified as Nora details how she laid a pillow on Charlie’s face, left the sickroom for tea, and returned to find him mercifully in the arms of the Lord. Gradually the truth is revealed to the others. Wastrel son Billy, seeing an opportunity for gain, proclaims that, unfortunately, duty demands that he bring in the authorities. Daughter Eileen charges that Billy’s true motive is to get unfettered access to the estate so that he can go on a monumental toot. Cyrus, the undertaker, worries about a delay in the soon-to-be funeral, and local policeman, O’Leary, is skeptical of any report coming from Billy. The characters become witnesses, judge, and jury to resolve the issue. 

Cast NORA FINNEGAN, wife of the deceased. Her agony over her husband’s suffering has driven her to assist God in ending his life. BILLY FINNEGAN, Nora’s son, a wastrel and carouser. After learning of his mother’s act, he declares it his duty to report her. Until now, duty has never been of much concern. EILEEN FINNEGAN, Nora’s daughter. She supports her mother and charges her brother with wanting to gain property and money for a monumental binge. FATHER KEOGH, a Catholic priest. More than a family priest, he is a close friend of Nora’s. Aghast when he learns of her act, he is torn by loyalty to Nora and duty. CYRUS ALSAKER, the undertaker. According to Billy, he was the school nerd and nitpicker. He is not happy to learn the facts of Nora’s act since it could mean a delay on a day with two funerals scheduled. JACK O’LEARY, local police officer. Also a family friend, he is dragged unwillingly into the house by the now high-and-mighty Billy to administer justice.
by Donald Arneson

IDOLS, a fifteen minute play for high school students, was a winner of the Words Players Theatre's 6th Annual Original Short Play Contest of plays submitted from all over the U.S.A. Set in the hallway of a high school, the idols in question are Rocky and Valerie, portrayed in glorified, glamorous poses by two pedestaled manikins, and are the center of attention for passing students. The two elites, however, maintain their haughty, aloof superiority throughout. Being ignored by their idols is especially hurtful to Becky, in love with Rocky, and Arthur, enthralled by Valerie. The two students are ridiculed by other students until they erupt from their captivation and stand up to their detractors –– and their idols.



My play Finnegan's Wake has been selected by the Renegade Theater Company of Duluth to be a part of their 2015 New Works Festival and will be presented to the public as a staged reading on Saturday, July 11th, at 7pm.

Don Arneson

Donald Arneson's short play, Idols, was chosen for production at the Words Plays 6th Annual Original Short Play Festival.The play's  premiere production will be October 17 and 18th in Rochester, MN.