City Stories

Kevin Kling gets real about Minneapolis versus St. Paul

Q: Your new play at the History Theatre, A Tale of Twin Cities, traces the cities’ origins. Any surprises?
Kevin Kling: There were colorful characters on both sides of the river that we rarely talk about now—those aunts and uncles that got pruned from the family tree—like “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, the first settler of St. Paul. And the Vulcans—I’ll never understand those guys.

Q: Has there always been a rivalry between the cities?
KK: There’s truth behind the notion that St. Paul is the last city of the East and Minneapolis the first city of the West. St. Paul has that traditional, blue-collar feel, and Minneapolis has some elbow room—along with the folly of youth.

Q: In Minnesota, there are the Twin Cities and then there’s everywhere else. Are Twin Citians as different as they’d like to think?
KK: I think we’re all a lot more similar than we pretend, that there’s a shared sense of being a Minnesotan. We saw it when the bridge collapsed, just as a real New York-ness came out on 9/11. I’m curious where that spirit came from: the weather? The ethnicities that created this environment?

Q: Some people still consider the Twin Cities to be flyover country. Does that bug you?
KK: No, because once the secret’s out, we’re goners—property values will rise and I’ll have neighbors I don’t know about. Seriously, we should hang on to our regionalism as long as we can. As the world gets smaller, I lament losing our sense of community, knowing who we are and where we come from.

Q: I have to ask: Minneapolis or St. Paul—your preference?
KK: There are times when only St. Paul will do. And there are times when you have to get to where it’s going on, in Minneapolis. Though for happy hour, man, that’s a toss-up.

A Tale of Twin Cities opens March 12 at the History Theatre, with music by vocalist Simone Perrin. history-theatre.com

Read more of Kling’s urban observations at mnmo.com/kling.

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