Zion Theatre Company is producing a selection of short plays by national award winning playwright Mahonri Stewart. Titled, Immortal Hearts and Other Short Plays, the event is being held as a fund raiser to help raise money for future shows, which will run during Zion Theater Company’s projected 2010 and 2011 seasons. The event will be held at the Provo Theatre (100 North, 105 East, Provo), on Friday, Saturday, and Monday (July 16, 17 and 19) at 7:30 pm. There will be no Saturday matinee. The show includes four one act plays and a song from a musical which Stewart has been working on with composer Nathaniel Drew. Each of the plays will be handled by separate directors. The plays include the following:
-“Immortal Hearts” is a romantic comedy based around “a sarcophagus in the basement given by an ex-boyfriend” said playwright Stewart. The relationship of a former couple, Lisa and Joshua, becomes symbolized by an odd Egyptian gift which, although put away, won’t be forgotten. Originally written several years ago for a 24 hour “Extreme Theater” event, Stewart has revised the script to be presented as part of this set of plays. Stewart said that the play came from a different place in himself than most of his other work, “It’s more contemporary than my other plays. Although I still consider it very personally meaningful, it also has a lighter touch. It’s fun and it’s hopelessly romantic.” Director Alex Barlow said about the play, “I love how the play touches upon the feelings that we all have when we’re in love, and the hope for that sometimes elusive happy ending.”
-“White Mountain” is a religious drama, centering on the supernatural dreams of two possible Mormon converts named Abraham and Mercy and the equally surreal experiences of Abraham’s increasingly irreligious sister Ruth who recently was abandoned by her husband. Although it’s a piece revised from one of his earliest scripts, Stewart said that it’s a story that “still resonates with me. It’s really a story about security. We all desperately want security in this life, and few of us ever really get it.” Director Brian Randall was drawn to the piece because: “The play makes you think about what’s important to you. It doesn’t even say ‘You’re wrong,’ but it does make you reconsider your approach to your priorities… family, religion, love.”
-“The Prince’s House” is a “pseudo-Elizabethan” piece where Stewart has attempted to take some of the heightened language, types and forms of Elizabethan drama and integrate them into “an experiment in language.” Stewart, who is also directing this piece said, “It’s my tribute to Shakespeare. He’s had a lot of influence on my writing and thinking, so I wanted to give him this grateful wink. It’s a darker, heavier piece, playing with supernatural or psychological struggles (depending on how you interpret the characters’ experiences), but the play is also infused with a subtle hope.”
– “Eurydice” is an excerpt from one of Stewart’s full length plays Manifest, which is itself a collection of world myths woven together to form a complete play. This piece of Manifest takes its inspiration from the Greek myth about Orpheus and Eurydice. After her death, Eurydice must come to grips with her own continued existence in the Underworld and what it means to her. Stewart said that, “although it deals with no particular denomination or religious worldview, it’s meant to be a very spiritual piece.” Director Rachel Baird said, “I was drawn to the play because I love how it deals with universal questions in a faith promoting, honest and accessible way.”
A song will also be performed to round out the event, written by Stewart and composed by Nathaniel Drew. The song isdrawn from musicals that Drew and Stewart have been creating: “If I Let Him Into My Life,” from a play based on Charles Dickens’ novel Our Mutual Friend.
Zion Theatre Company is a relatively new theatrical organization whose mission, according to their website, is to “produce plays of a high moral caliber that resonate with humankind’s better nature. We focus on theatrical work that makes human beings better socially, intellectually, and spiritually. We craft our plays with an artist’s care for the aesthetics as well as the philosopher’s care for morality. Our purpose is not to take away from any of the good that people already have, but rather to add meaning to the light they already have in their lives.”
ZTC’s first production was Stewart’s national award winning play Farewell to Eden (which is now available on DVD at ZTC’s website) and has plans to finish off 2010 with productions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in August and a revival of Stewart’s popular play Swallow the Sun about C.S. Lewis’s early life, in November.
Tickets for Immortal Hearts and other Plays are $6 and can be purchased or reserved at www.ziontheatrecompany.com , or can be purchased at the door. For more information about ZTC or the play patrons can call (801) 822-6506.