During his one-man show Questions of the Heart (tickets still available — tonight’s show includes a Q&Q with the creator), writer/actor Ben Abbott speaks, I believe, 100%ly in the actual words he recorded during his interviews. One character early in the play speaks of loving those fabulous Primary ladies as a child, then clarifies that this is back when Primary was held in the middle of the week. What the original interviewee did not say (and what Abbott does not insert) is what Primary is, who goes to it, why ladies seemed to be in charge — none of that! Later in the play his characters use distinct Mormon phrases like “taking the sacrament” or “temple recommend”! They use uniquely Mormon meanings of common words like “gospel” and “ward”! And yet never once does Abbott slow things down to give the Gentiles in the audience definitions or explanations or anything else of the kind! He just trusts his audience to keep up. And, based on audience reaction, so they did.
I overheard Kelly Ann speaking with the play’s designer and her assistant about the Mormon diction and phrasing, and they couldn’t think of anything at any point during the play that would have been inaccessible to someone not Mormon. In the end, the only people worried about Mormon sprachen were the Mormons. Everyone else ate it right up and simply enjoyed the show.
I knew it.
3 thoughts on “A brief review of Questions of the Heart’s language in which Theric gets to say I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!”
The audience who attends an experimental one-man play in Berkeley is cosmopolitan enough to learn about foreign cultures on their own terms. But let’s not forget that Berkeley is just as weird as Provo. =)
Sometimes, it’s appropriate to explain strange Mormon terms. Sometimes it’s patronizing. It depends on context and audience.
Im indeed going back on Saturday afternoon to just enjoy the show, as last night I knew I would be critiquing it. I love that it spoke to everybody, Mormons and non-mormons as I believe it has an important message for both. I really hope that it will become more than experimental.
FWIW, Abbott’s work seems to have gotten notice in the San Francisco Chronicle today: