Theatre: Eric Samuelsen’s “Family” opens March 2

“Family,” a new play by Eric Samuelsen, associate professor of theatre at BYU, opens next month.

Samuelsen is one of the premiere LDS playwrights and any new work by him is not-to-be-missed by those who who are interested in the world of Mormon arts and culture. I will, of course, miss it [unless someone wants to fly me out to Utah and provide room, board and transportation].

The play, directed by David Morgan, is a comedy with dramatic overtones (you know — like the Gilmore Girls [that sounds flip — but I really like the Gilmore Girls]) and according to the press release:

“[It] follows the struggles of a generally loving and supportive Mormon family through one extremely bad day…

“…The children in the family are each coming home after failing to complete an important part of their lives. For one, it’s a marriage commitment. For another, it is a graduate program. For another, it is a Church mission….

“…Each of the four children comes home to seek comfort and answers. At a moment of crisis, love and laughter reveal the family’s inner strength.”

Samuelsen is the winner of three AML Awards. He has taught at BYU since 1992.

Of his new play, he says:

“Family is where you can’t get away with anything … Family is where the people know you so well that they see right through all your posturing and pretentiousness. But also, the family is a place where they respect you enough to allow you much needed privacy. The Hulls in my play aren’t perfect, and they make mistakes. But they muddle through pretty effectively.”


“We are afraid as Mormons to reinvent ourselves, and it holds us back. We need to be constantly reborn. I think that is what repentance is. We can’t ever settle — life won’t let us. We have to rethink things, re-decide who we are and what we mean to each other.”

The play runs March 2-5, 8-12 and 15-19 at the Margetts Theatre on the BYU campus. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Preview performances are March 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, at 2 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the Fine Arts Ticket Office at (801) 378-4322 or online at the College of Fine Arts Web site.

Check out the play’s official Study Guide (Adobe Reader required). And Bloggernacle lawyers and poly sci types might be interested to know that one of Samuelsen’s early plays is titled “The Seating of Senator Smoot.”

3 thoughts on “Theatre: Eric Samuelsen’s “Family” opens March 2”

  1. >

    I’m of two minds here. One part of me says “Well, duh!”

    The other part of me takes issue with Samuelson’s opening statement.

    To be precise, I don’t agree at all with the first sentence. It’s like saying, “We, as Mormons, are afraid of spiders!” or “We, as Mormons, need to obey all traffic laws.”

    How is the fear to change a Mormon thing? The need to “reinvent” is rather something that crosses all social lines, and saying that the problem is inherent in Mormonism with the as opposed to some other culture a tacit continuation of the argument is frankly silly, especially when the gospel, if it is about anything, is about constant change (for the better, of course). Heck – I know people who change with each new calling.

    I for one am getting mighty tired of Mormons speaking in Mormon generalizations, and I frankly reject Samuelson’s notion that the fear to “reinvent ourslves” is a failing in Mormon culture as a whole.

    Posted by ccwbass

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