Life on Capitol Hill
Mike Broemmel says he stumbled into becoming a playwright.
In the early 2000s, he wrote a short story called “The Baptism,” which tells the story of a “town run amuck with religious zealotry,” states Broemmel’s website. However, it did not get published as a short story because the publisher Broemmel was working with thought it was too controversial, Broemmel said.
“So I turned it into a play,” Broemmel added. “I found I enjoyed the format and everything involved with writing a play.”
Today, Broemmel, 58, a Denver native who currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, has written about 30 plays. He is best known for his Iconic Women Theatre Series. The series consists of six full-length, one-actor plays that chronicle the life stories of women that history has “somewhat overlooked or previously failed to fully explore,” Broemmel said.
Not all the plays in the Iconic Women Theatre Series tell the story of a local woman, but the first Broemmel wrote for the series is about Denver’s own Helen Bonfils. In addition to being an heiress and philanthropist who funded the building of the Holy Ghost Catholic Church at 1900 California St. in Denver, Bonfils became the first woman to head a major metropolitan newspaper — her father co-founded The Denver Post and Helen Bonfils acquired it after his death, serving the newspaper in a variety of leadership roles. Bonfils also became a producer of Broadway plays in New York, and locally, her love of theater led to building the former Bonfils Memorial Theatre on East Colfax Avenue for the Denver Civic Theatre. This building eventually became today’s Lowenstein CulturePlex, 2526 E. Colfax Ave. Money from her estate also helped establish the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, after her death in 1972.
“The Bonfils Girl” was completed in 2014, and in 2021, a seventh play for the Iconic Women Theatre Series will be finished, Broemmel said.
“At the outset, I think I thought there would be two or three,” Broemmel said. But “the thing is, I am always coming across examples of women who have lived amazing lives, and whose stories just haven’t been fully told or sometimes, even properly chronicled.”
Plays part of the Iconic Women Theatre Series have been performed locally, across the U.S. and on international stages. They feature Colorado-based actors and crew teams.
The plays are expected to go on the road again later in 2021, depending on the state of the coronavirus pandemic, Broemmel said. He added there will be opportunities for those in Denver to also see the plays - either live in-person or as an online, virtual experience.