The Pathetic Life and Remarkable Afterlife of

Elmer McCurdy

The Worst Robber in the west

by josh cragun

Dramatis personae

DirectorLiz Neerland
Stage ManagerAlyssa Thompson
Production ManagerMonique Lindquist
DramaturgAlex Meyer
Scenic DesignUrsula K. Bowden
Costume DesignRubble&Ash
Lighting DesignMitchell Frasier
Property DesignSarah Salisbury
Sound DesignJacob M. Davis
Elmer McCurdySam Landman
Lil' BritchesBoo Segersin
Grits CrabcakeDerek Dirlam
EnsembleSong Kim
 Laura Mason
 Lily Noonan

This production runs 1 hour 50 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.



Ursula K. Bowden is thrilled to be back in the nimbus sandbox. A BFA Technical Theatre and Theatrical Design degree holder from Drake University, Bowden has been a full time theater artist for over a decade, working as a freelance designer around the Twin Cities and Upper Midwest Region with companies like Freshwater Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Fortune's Fool, Theatre Pro Rata, and Theatre Unbound, and many others. Her work may also be seen as a props artisan on the Guthrie Theater’s stage and around town as a scenic charge artist. She is the designer and technical director for Woodbury High School. Ursula’s eye for detail was featured in American Theatre Magazine in 2014 for her scenic design for Swandive Theatre’s An Outopia for Pigeons. At home she enjoys spending time with her husband and young sons.

Josh Cragun is a writer who fell into the company of theater artists at a young and impressionable age, and fortunately, has never been quite the same. This led to a series of questionable decisions, one of which took place in 2001 when he formed nimbus with a fellow writer known as Cockroach. He has been creating new theater with the company ever since. In that time he has written thirteen original works of theater for the company. In addition he has directed, as well as designed video, costumes, properties and sets for the company over the years. In one way or another, he has contributed to all of the company’s productions.

Jacob M. Davis is a freelance sound designer and engineer based in Minneapolis. His recent sound designs include: The Minotaur, Up: The Man in the Flying Chair (Theatre Pro Rata); Ludlow, The Kalevala (nimbus); Henry and Alice: Into the Wild, Nina Simone: Four Women, Flower Drum Song, The Soul of Gershwin (Park Square Theater); Sweeney Todd (Theatre Latté Da). His regional and international work includes companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Mark Taper Forum, Universal Studios, Ahmanson Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Goodman Theater. Jacob holds a MFA in Sound Design from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA in Theatre Design from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a member of the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association and United Scenic Artists. He is also a member of the Theatre Pro Rata Artistic Company.

After a little over a decade, Derek Dirlam is back onstage with nimbus! From the Theatre Garage to the Crane, a lot has happened in the last 10 years. Derek is now living in St Paul with his fiancée Caitlin, their 2 yr old hyper-active terrier Cora, and their 10 month old highly-active (and now almost as mobile!!) son Charlie. Derek’s recent credits include A View from the Bridge and The Metromaniacs at Theatre in the Round, the world-premiere of Might as Well Be Dead at Park Square, Frankenstein with Green T, and Get Thee Behind Me, Santa!: The Musical with Maximum Verbosity. He also is the Artistic Director of Conundrum Collective, which has been producing live and online theater since 2013.

Mitchell Frazier attended University of Minnesota studying Theater and Speech with a minor in African-American History. A nimbus company member, he has collaborated with them as an actor (American Noise, Emerald and the Love Song of the Dead Fisherman, From Darkness, and more); a Lighting designer (Mail Order Bride, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Lower Depths, The Golden Ass, Happy Birthday Wanda June, Storms of November, and The River Becomes Sea); and as director (Nacirema: Stories of Color, Redemption). Mitch is also an Independent Lighting Designer and a Project Manager at JTH Lighting Alliance. His greatest joys are introducing technical theater to young people, and enjoying life with his wife, Leah, their son, David and his wife Linnea. Mitchell is also a practitioner of Martial Arts. He has received a Second-Degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Raised in the Oregon territories, Song Kim now stakes his claim in Minneapolis. This is his second rodeo with the nimbus bunch, having previously appeared in 2012's Happy Birthday, Wanda June. Song has also appeared locally in Lloyd Suh's Charles Francis Chan, Jr.'s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery with Mu Performing Arts, Jessica Huang's The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin as well as All the Way, and The Great Society with History Theatre. Song is nominated for the 2019 James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play, Hayes Production for his performance as Uncle in Julia Cho's Aubergine, a co-production between Olney Theatre Center and Everyman Theatre in Maryland, and can be seen next in Theatre Coup de Etat's production of The Pillowman, directed by Rich Remedios, opening at The Spring House Ministry Center in Minneapolis Friday June 28.

This is Sam Landman’s very first nimbus production. And he’s very happy that it’s finally happening. He’s worked with a number of theater companies across town, including HUGE Improve Theater, Park Square, Yellow Tree Theatre, Girl Friday Productions, Artistry, Sandbox Theatre, Troupe America, Jungle Theater, Loudmouth Collective, Theatre Pro Rata, Wonderlust Productions, Torch Theater, Ghoulish Delights and Gremlin Theatre, just to name a lot. He’s written several MN Fringe shows, short films and proof-of-concept series, as well as 52 one-act plays within the span of a year just to see if he could (he did, BTW, and you can read them all at Through his company, LandmanLand, he’s created and produced storytelling shows in conjunction with Wayward Theatre, Strike Theater, MN Fringe’s Drafts & Draughts and the ensemble-driven “Dream County” for Twin Cities Horror Festival VII in 2018. He’s currently working on a novel, which retcons 80’s pop band Spandau Ballet as homicidal supervillains (which they probably were anyway). Sam also hosts 2 different podcasts: Aging Poorly (an anti-nostalgia show about geeky, childhood pop culture) and The Bazzness through MN Playlist (focusing on the Twin Cities acting community).

Monique Lindquist is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an MA in Education from Hamline University. She has been involved with nimbus for many years as a set builder, box officer, and general volunteer, and stepped into the role of Production Manager with the 2013 season. In her spare time (what spare time???) Monique is an avid hockey player and triathlete.

Laura Mason is an actor, writer, and DJ. This is her debut performance with nimbus and she is delighted to work on this show! You may have seen her past work with Chameleon Circle Theatre (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Red Dice Collective (The Marvelous Red Balloon), Raw Sugar / Theatre Unbound (Sex, War, and Syphilis), Six Elements Theatre (The Hound of Chulainn), 20% Theatre Company (Leah’s Train; If We Were Birds), Freshwater Theatre (Turn Signals), as well as on various other collaborative performances (Frankenstein; Persephone; Into the Unreal City) and play readings (The Halloween Tree). She received her BA in Theatre from the U of M - Twin Cities. You can see her next tearing up the board in Human Combat Chess with Six Elements. Find out more info at

Liz Neerland is a native of Minneapolis and a graduate of Grinnell College. Since 2002, she has had a hand in writing, directing, designing, or producing every nimbus show. Recent writing credits include The KalevalaIn the Age of Paint and Bone, and Bohemian Flats. In addition to her co-Artistic Director Duties, she also serves as the company's Managing Director, and is the Technical Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival every summer. In her "spare time" she enjoys cooking, motorcyling, spending time on the North Shore, and managing her dogs' Instagram account.

Lily Noonan is a Twin Cities actor who is very excited to make their first nimbus stage debut! You may have recently seen Lily perform with Fearless Comedy, The Arts Fledgling Program at Phoenix Theatre, Slaphappy Studios, Theatre Unbound, and MainlyMe Productions. Lily recently finished performing in a touring music and theatre production called Jerome of the Snake with the local Minnesota band The Twilight Hours across Greater Minnesota. When Lily is not acting, you can catch her performing as their drag king alter-ego Captain Falcum at Cancan Wonderland, LUSH and more.

Rubble&Ash is a new name to capture the collaborative design and execution work of Andrea M. Gross and Barb Portinga. For the past dozen years, they have stretched, challenged and supported one another as costume designers, pattern makers, and storytellers. Together at nimbus their work has been seen in The River Becomes Sea and The Kalevala. Barb has been making her living solely via her varied costume skills since graduating from Augsburg College in 1990. Her design work has been seen throughout the Midwest, from Utah to Door County, WI. Andrea made her Twin Cities debut with nimbus (Propaganda for the Converted in 2005) and has been a company member since 2010. Devised work and the storytelling at nimbus has informed her work everywhere. Rubble&Ash melds pieces from existing stocks of costumes, thrift, antique and fabric stores, and purpose builds garments to combine elements in unexpected ways. The intention is always to support the story and creation of character with skill and ingenuity.

Boo Segersin so excited to be making her debut with nimbus! You may have seen her recently in Fearless Five: Noir (Fearless Comedy), Heartless (Impossible Salt), or Charlotte's Web (Stages Theatre Company). Other companies she has performed with include The Winding Sheet Outfit, Theatre Unbound, Market Garden Theatre, Shadow Horse Theater, Smartmouth Comedy, Really Spicy Opera, Swandive Theatre, SteppingStone Theatre, Six Elements Theatre, Ghoulish Delights, Sod House Theater, Silver Slipper Productions, Cross Community Players, Lyric Arts, Children's Theatre Company, History Theatre and the Minnesota Opera. Education: Augsburg University BA. Upcoming: You are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear... with The Winding Sheet Outfit as a part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Alyssa Thompson has been working as a Stage Manager/ASM around the Twin Cities for the past six years. She is the Company Stage Manager for nimbus, and loves the devising process and creating new work. She spends her days marketing travel to Scandinavia, Africa, and (her favorite) Antarctica. Her stage management credits include River Becomes Sea, Ludlow, The Kalevala, and Storms of November, with nimbus and Pioneer Suite and Mrs. Charles with Freshwater Theatre.

director’s notes

"Every story is at least a little bit true."

This line, from a previous nimbus show, seems especially apt to the story of Elmer McCurdy.

There is some truth somewhere in this here story, but we have certainly taken our creative liberties.

This much we know for sure:

Elmer McCurdy was actually a man, who actually tried to rob some banks and a train, and actually failed at doing so. He died in a shootout because of it. The scenes in this show about those things are more or less how they happened in real life.

From there, his embalmed corpse began an improbable journey that lasted more than 60 years. For a while, the corpse was treated as a real thing - the embalmed body of a dead outlaw. But at some point, the truth flew away and people forgot that this thing, this object, was really an actual dead body. Elmer died in 1911, but wasn't buried until 1977. 

As for creative liberties, we've taken a fair few. Using Elmer's story as a jumping off point, what we found fascinating was how one man's legend could grow through the years, using a real body to become completely removed from who the man actually was. In our story, Elmer becomes a morbid game of telephone, each iteration building on the last, until his final tale bears little resemblance to true facts.

This isn't just a story about Elmer McCurdy. It's about entertainment, and how we've chosen to present stories through the years. It's about Lil' Britches (who did exist, but didn't roll with Elmer) and Grits Crabcake (completely of our own creation) and how their stories also evolve along with the legend of Elmer - it's an examination on the treatment of women, the glorification of violence, and the rewriting of history to make it a lot more interesting than it probably was.

But ultimately, it's just a lot of fun. Elmer's true story is so improbable, so ridiculous, that in our tale it's hard to separate fact from fiction. We hope it's a story that you enjoy.

Special thanks

Brent Anderson, Garry Geiken, Eli Coats, Corinna Knepper Troth

About nimbus

nim-bus, n.

1. a : A bright cloud, or cloudlike splendor, imagined as investing deities when they appeared on earth.
b : a cloud or atmosphere about a person or thing

2 : A bright or golden disk surrounding the head of a drawn or sculptured divinity, saint, or sovereign

3 : a rain cloud

nimbus has been creating original theater in the Twin Cities since 2001. Their unique process for the creation of playwright-led collaborative work combined with their passion for creating bold, eclectic theater has been dazzling audiences for over 15 years. A company founded and led by playwrights and run by the artists themselves, we are dedicated to creating theatre that crosses boundaries, promotes imagination, and ignites new conversations.

How we create our work

All of our work is created collaboratively using a process we have been refining since 2001. Our casts and design teams work with a director, dramaturg, and playwright to create original theater together. Often starting with a simple idea or concept, the entire team participates in researching and discussing the ideas, characters, and locations the play will focus on.

After several weeks of intensive research, the team enters a period we call ‘script work.’ During this time, the cast and director improvise and work with text provided by the playwright. Over time, a script takes form. After a staged reading as well as editing and finishing work by the playwright, rehearsal begins.

Unlike traditional American theater, our process allows the design concepts, characters, and narrative to develop together. Although our process is new, it is not extremely different from the way that Shakespeare or Moliere created their work. Our work is always evolving and changing, and we welcome your input in improving it.

nimbus Company members

Josh Cragun – Artistic Director
Liz Neerland – Artistic Director
Mitchell Frazier – Master Electrician
Andrea Gross – Company Manager
Caitlin Hammel – Video Manager
Brian Hesser – Technical Director
Monique Lindquist - Production Manager
Carl Lundstrom - Front of House Manager
Alyssa Thompson - Company Stage ManagerAlex Meyer - Volunteer Coordinator

nimbus Board of Directors

Jill Hoeft Mat Lindquist G.W. Gant Luxton Nick Tally Heidi Berg

Next up for nimbus:

Lost in the taiga

A new play directed by Liz Neerland
November 9-24, 2019 at The Crane theater

In 1936, the Lykov family fled into the Russian wilderness, fleeing religious persecution. They had no contact with the outside world for 46 years, until a geological team stumbled across them in 1978.

Join nimbus as we explore the story of a family who had no idea that WWII happened, but figured out what satellites were from observing the sky. Through the journey of the Lykovs, we examine why people isolate themselves and how they survive against impossible odds.

Thank you to all of our 2018 financial contributors:

Icon ($500+):

Dutch & Irma Cragun
David Potter & Darwin Lookingbill
Liz & Jake Davis
Pam Kaufman & Dennis Keierleber
Sarah Asch & Evan Schnell
Charles & Maureen Kelly Neerland
I-Ming Shih

Parhelion ($250 - $499):

John Beal & Barbara Brin
Paul Engh
Nancy Feldman
Andy & Karen Krenik
Ariel Leaf
Mat & Monique Lindquist
Tammy & Mike Thompson
Network For Good, in the name of Cockroach

Aura ($100 - $249):

Libby Andrus
Ray & Mary Ann Campbell
Doug Carlson
Walter Duffy
David & Mary Grace Flannery
Meri Golden
Doug & Susan Greenberg
Daniel C
Hartnett Family Foundation
Dianne & Steve Healy
Ken & Patty Hepburn
Lucie Holzemer & Wally Mattson
Kelli Gorr
Tom Kelly
Sarah Martin
Ron & Mary Mattson
John McCormick
Leah Milcarek
LaVonne Neerland
Jay Newcomb & Family
Mark Oyaas
Scott Pakudaitis
Daniel Pinkerton & Jane Johnston
Peter & Mary Sandberg
Mary & David Sandberg
Mel Thorne
Josiah Titus
Andrew Troth
Nicole Tuma
Patrick Yoon

Corona ($50 - $99):

Karen Crouch
Marcus Downs
Nancy Eustis
Tim Foster
Logan Keith
Warren & Carolyn Kime
Kirsti & Jerry Klukas
Joseph Kuznik
Maury & Julie Landsman
Melissa & Marcus Lienhard
Christopher Miller
Kathy Minkler
Victoria Sass
Marsha & Mike Wagner
John & Donna Ward
Boston Scientific

Halo ($1-$49):

Bruce Abas
Jim Barri
Cora Berg
Alan Berks
Doran Edwards
Ryan Goeken
Kit Gordon
Terry Kelzer
Ben Layne
Eric Mahn
David Moehring
Jenna Papke
Victoria Sass
Meredith Smith
Bill & Sarah Stout
William Studer