It is wonderful to come across completely new information on one subject when you are searching for information in a completely different area. In my case, I was looking for background on Edward Tullidge and why he was in New York City in 1866, and I discovered the Edward Tullidge who tried to create a Mormon literature in 1864. I also discovered that my impression of Tullidge, as an inconstant and unfaithful Church member involved in the Godbeite schism, was not a fair impression. And I came to the conclusion that we, in Mormon letters, need to give Edward Tullidge, the author, poet, playwright and editor, more attention when we look at Mormon literary history.
Salt Lake City’s Plan-B Theatre Company is staging the world premier of Matthew Greene’s Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea at the end of this month. The play opens Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 10. Tickets and details are available at planbtheatre.org or 801.355.ARTS.
Here is the description of the play from Plan-B:
Adam is LDS. Steve is gay. Set against the backdrop of the passage of Prop. 8, these childhood friends grapple with religion, sexuality,politics and adulthood. A world premiere by LDS playwright Matthew Greene. Featuring Logan Tarantino as Steve and Topher Rasmussen as Adam, directed by Jason Bowcutt.
AMV readers may recall that I interviewed Greene is about his play #MormoninChief. LDS playwright, retired BYU professor and literary/cultural critic Eric Samuelsen recently interviewed Greene about Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea. Greene attended BYU during the time Eric taught there so that also is discussed. Enjoy!
One Playwright to Another: Eric Samuelsen’s Interview with Matthew Greene
I guess it would have been five years ago now that Matthew Greene showed up in my beginning Playwriting class at BYU. Mild-mannered kid, obviously exceptionally bright, but rather quiet. I assigned the kids to write a ten minute play, due the next class period—jump right in and start writing something, anything. And his play was smart and funny and real. I knew I had someone special in that classroom. He’s had his New York debut, with #MormonInChief. And now Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake is producing his play Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea. more
I’ve written before about the once great status of Mormon theatre, and the infrastructure it once enjoyed. So I was pleased to find comments about the beginning of this infrastructure from Horace G. Whitney, longtime Deseret News editor-in-chief and the paper’s drama critic. In my opinion infrastructure, broadly conceived, accounts for much of what has happened in Mormon drama over the past century. Whitney, in the article below, describes a vision of how drama could operate under the MIA and ward amusement committees (which were roughly the equivalent of the recently disbanded ward activities committees, I assume).
I must be honest. This quotation, although delivered in the tabernacle, isn’t so much literary criticism as drawing a lesson from contemporary literature. But the work involved is available, and the idea that Brigham Young both saw the play and commented on it. Perhaps more surprisingly, his comment fits well with the theme of the play itself.
The comments below were made in early February, 1853, just months (and perhaps just weeks) after the Social Hall, the first entertainment venue in the Salt Lake Valley, had been completed. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, drama has traditionally been an important part of Mormon culture, and support for drama can trace its history to Nauvoo, where even Brigham Young played at being an actor. In Salt Lake, his support led to not only the construction of the Social Hall, but to the Salt Lake Theater, the principal home for drama in Utah for 40 years.
As I’ve looked at 19th century newspapers and other documents, I’ve come across literary works or references to literary works that I didn’t know about, and that, apparently, are unknown among those of us interested in Mormon literature. Yesterday, I discovered another.
If you look at Mormon Literature in terms of how many church members interacted with it—i.e., how many members were involved either in its production or its consumption—one literary form was likely the King of Mormon Literature from the 1930s through perhaps 1970: Drama.
Cleaning out the mailbox/list of stuff I’ve been saving for a links post…
Spring Poetry Runoff
If you haven’t yet made it over to Wilderness Interface Zone for the second annual Spring Poetry Runoff, you should check it out. At last count, Patricia has 23 poems from 13 different poets lined up. The runoff is going to go well in to late April this year.
Looking for the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference?
It’s not being held at BYU this year — but it will be held. Check out the For Young Readers website for details. In brief, it’s going to be June 14-18 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. The high number of active Utah-based writers and illustrators who focus on work for young readers means that you are going to get great panels and good networking opportunities so if you have an interest in the field, check it out.
Flickering hits the stage
Melissa Larson’s next play “A Flickering.” will have performances April 8-19 in the Provo Theatre. Here’s how Mel describes the play: “The play is set in New York in 1916. Max is a young woman trying to break into the infant movie industry while her best friend Samantha is on her way to a successful theatrical acting career. But controversy fuels the success of Max’s first film, at the risk of Samantha’s reputation — and their friendship.” Ticket info and show times at ProvoStage.org.
Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers paperback
Remember the excellent interview and awesome excerpt AMV ran a few months back about BYU musicologist Jeremy Grimshaw’s The Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers? Well Mormon Artists Group has sold out of the limited collector’s edition of the book and so has now brought it out in paperback.
BYU Studies reviews Thayer’s latest
Philip A. Snyder has posted an in-depth look at Douglas Thayer’s latest novel The Treehouse over at the BYU Studies website. Snyder does an excellent job of situating the novel in the context of Thayer’s body of work. He also notes that Zarahemla Books (which has published Thayer’s last two works) will be coming out with a collection of new short stories later this year. And Snyder ends the review with a sentiment I very much agree with: “With Thayer in his eightieth year and contemplating retirement from BYU, now would be a perfect time to reissue his work so general readers, as well as scholars, could review the very fine career of a pioneering writer of Mormon and other western fiction. Thayer and his writing deserve no less than that.” The Treehouse is available from the Zarahemla Books website.
Segullah on the Whitney finalists
Emily M. and Shelah discuss their favorite finalists in each of the Whitney Awards categories over at Segullah. Although I don’t agree with all of their picks (more on that later), on the whole, I think their sensibilities are well in line with those of most AMV readers and am in awe of their ability to read every single finalist. If you are looking to dip your toe in to LDS fiction, Emily and Shelah’s picks are a good place to start.
And that’s all for now. I will continue to post a links roundup from time-to-time, but the best way to receive timely info on the cool stuff that crosses my transom is to follow AMV on Twitter.