ZTC Presents _Immortal Hearts and Other Short Plays_

The Directors: Alex Barlow, Mahonri Stewart, Brian Randall and Rachel Baird.
The Directors: Alex Barlow, Mahonri Stewart, Brian Randall and Rachel Baird

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.

17 thoughts on “ZTC Presents _Immortal Hearts and Other Short Plays_”

  1. Hi Mahonri. The notice says “Friday and Saturday” but also lists July 19 (Monday). Is there a production on Monday? I hope so. (I’m in town and am hoping to come!)

    Also, the link to Zion Theater Company doesn’t seem to be working at present, supposedly because “the server is taking too long to respond.”

  2. Yes, there is one on Monday as well! I’m having the same problem with the website, I don’t know why.

  3. I ran into the same problem… I have no clue what’s going on with our server. We’re following up on it.

  4. Tomorrow’s the last night to see it, by the way! If you can, go see it, we’ve been getting back some great feedback!

  5. Kent, I’ll make sure they reserve 2 tickets for you. If you need more than that , let me know.

  6. Mahonri,

    Yes, I was able to go with a couple of friends. The theater was mostly full, but everyone was able to get tickets.

    We enjoyed the evening. I didn’t care much for Immortal Hearts, which it seemed to me wasn’t as polished as the others — I’m not sure how much of that was the acting/directing and how much was the script, which struck me as awkward in places. But I liked the other three quite a bit, and was quite impressed with The Prince’s House. (Spoiler alert.) It had never occurred to me to think about the day-to-day struggle of loving someone who suffers from possession (or the psychological analogue to it). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a story that takes this seriously as a human condition (as opposed to a cheap plot device or evil to be opposed). Hats off to you.

    (In fairness, I should add that one of my friends, a frequent theater-goer from Salt Lake, liked Immortal Hearts best of the three. So what do I know?)

    In any event, we all were quite glad we went. I only wish you had still been around so we could have met in person!

    Kent, I didn’t see you there, but then I think we only met once about a dozen years ago (in Chris Bigelow’s living room). Were you able to make it? Will you be around at other events where I might see you while we’re in Utah?

  7. Really, Jonathan? I was there with my son (end of the 3rd row from the stage of the main section, stage left). I’m afraid I didn’t see the recent comments before I went, so I didn’t know to look for you or ask around for you.

    I agree with your comments on the plays. I too thought that Immortal Hearts was a bit awkward — it seemed like there were pauses between the lines each character spoke or something. I do think that the play works very well, it just felt unreal — like I was reading the play and getting interrupted in my reading.

    Were the actors not as well rehearsed for Immortal Hearts?

    I particularly liked White Mountain — the Mormon element caught me a little off guard when it appeared (but in a good way), since I was expecting more of a conflict between the town and the visionary folk (Abraham and Mercy). And even at the end I half expected Jacob to end up Mormon (although its better that he didn’t).

    In my view the song was the weakest piece. I wonder if chosing Jamie was the right move — she didn’t seem capable of the volume needed to fill the room, and at some points she was simply too soft. [It was almost like how Church members sing in Church here — as if loud is somehow bad or feared.]

    I was also disappointed that you weren’t there, Mahonri. I’ll have to let you know the next time I’m in the Phoenix area.

  8. Thanks, Jonathan!
    Although I really like “Immortal Hearts” on a number of levels, I actually agree with you that it is the weakest script of the set. I wrote it in several hours for a 24 hour theater fund raiser. So I was working with a certain number of constraints, like I had to use the actor’s assigned to me, in the costumes they were wearing (thus the gypsy), with the sets and props available (thus the sarcophagus and baseball bat)… it was a fun, interesting exercise, but did force me into a certain direction.

    Almost everyone seemed to enjoy _White Mountain_ and _Euridyce_, but _Prince’s House_ seems to have been divisive… some people thought it was bizarre and confusing, or slightly uncomfortable with the possession angel, or really loved it. There wasn’t a lot of common, middle ground on the opinions with that one. Interesting…

  9. Kent,

    I’m so sad that I missed both you AND Jonathan! Scheduling conflicts made us push the performance back, which then made me have to miss the performances… I have to wait for the DVD to see it!

    I’m not sure if was Jamie not being able to project… the sound system’s really bad in there, so they had to crank up the music to an unnatural level… I’m sad you couldn’t hear her as well, she has a gorgeous voice.

    The whole production came together pretty quickly and Immortal Hearts lost a couple of their actors which they had to replace last minute, so that may have had something to do with it. We all would have liked more rehearsal time than we were able to get with our casts, I think.

  10. By the way, that’s “possession angle,” not “possession angel,” in my comment to Jonathan… ;]

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