So this is not some snazzy, official list with criteria, rubrics, or voting committees. This is just my personal, gut-feeling-favorite Mormon Arts contributions that I have experienced this year. This also doesn’t mean that it was even published or produced in 2012… these are works/artists that I have personally encountered this year (or so). So keep that in mind as I submit “Mahonri Stewart’s Personal Mormon Arts Favorites of 2012!” (Which may or may not become an annual tradition, depending on how lazy I am next year).
FAVORITE MORMON PLAY: MELISSA LEILANI LARSON’S MARTYRS’ CROSSING
So, beyond what I’ve seen my Zion Theatre Company produce this year, I haven’t had a chance to see much Mormon Drama in 2012 since I live in Arizona (kind of pathetic since I’m supposed to be the Mormon Drama expert around here). I can’t visit Utah on a whim to see the rare Mormon themed play that comes around (or, this year, New York with #MormonInChief!), but what I have done this year is read a bunch of older Mormon plays to finish my editing for Saints on Stage. Since one of those plays was produced again this year, I am choosing Martyrs’ Crossing, which has been getting great reviews at the Echo Theatre in Provo. I saw BYU’s production of the show years ago and read it again this year, and it’s as beautiful and vibrant as I remember it. Melissa is one of Mormonism’s best playwrights and, although I would call Little Happy Secrets her best work so far, Martyrs’ Crossing is a personal favorite, much due to Mel’s beautiful writing and to my love for Jean d’Arc… who I may tackle a play about some day as well, although it would be pretty different than Mel’s take. Mel keeps beating me to the punch on stories that I love, including Jane Austen’s Persuasion and her upcoming adaptation of my all time favorite novel, C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. Despite that personal frustration, I can’t but help look at these works and say, “Well, at least Mel wrote it, because it’s beautiful.”
FAVORITE MORMON PLAYWRIGHT: MATTHEW GREENE
Although I haven’t seen or read it, just the fact that Matthew Greene was able to get a Mormon themed play up in major a New York fringe festival is nothing to sniff at. I’ve read both positive and negative reviews for #MormonInChief, but I admire Matthew (who was in BYU’s WDA Workshop with me several years ago) for really jumping into the New York theater scene and progressing the cause of Mormon Drama. He’s also got an upcoming play coming soon to Plan-B Theatre Company in Salt Lake City called Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea. Matthew is getting some real traction in his career as a dramatic writer and I believe it’s well deserved. Continue reading “My 2012 Mormon Arts Favorites”
Remember Duck Beach? Well it’s coming to New York on October 23 at Landmark Sunshine Cinema. The show’s at 8:30 and the filmmakers will be in attendance to introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. But this knowledge will do you no good because the show was sold out before I even started typing this post some days ago.
Those lucky New Yorkers maybe will come tell us how it was?
Before I review this show, I have to tell you a bit about my history with the character and the movies.
Once, long ago, Lady Steed and I checked out a Final Cut VHS tape from the Orem Public Library that featured the BYU student film, Peluca, that later appeared at Slamdance and from which we can draw a direct line to Napoleon Dynamite. Same character (though he was named Seth at the time) and some of the same brilliant moments later colorized for the film-film.
We and our friends the Dugans used to show Peluca to people just to see how they would react. Us, we loved it devotedly. We watched it dozens of times. And showing it to someone new was a pretty foolproof way to predict the future of our friendship.
Napoleon Dynamite premiered at Sundance just after the birth of our first child so, even though we were in Utah and had attended Sundance the year before, we did not even bother looking at the listings. When Napoleon became the breakout hit I was heartbroken that we had missed it and would not be able to see it until wide release.
The day of wide release, we took the baby and went to the first Provo show.
And from the opening second when Jon Heder stares out and sighs, I began laughing. I’ve been laughing ever since. We saw it in theaters I think eight times. I’m relatively certain our son will never see any other movie more times in theaters than he saw Napoleon the first year of his life.
For the record, it was also the first thing we let him watch on a tv screen. It was his favorite movie as a toddler and among his first words are Napoleon quotes.
On to the tv show.
Continue reading ““If you two don’t give a crap about our friendship, I’ll just have to give enough crap for the three of us.” (Napoleon Dynamite on TV)”
Zion Theater Company and Imminent Catharsis Media are presenting national award winning playwright Mahonri Stewart’s play Rings of the Tree on Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, February 4 at the Off Broadway Theater in Salt Lake City; as well as Thursday, February 9, Friday the 10th, and Monday the 13th, at the Grove Theater in Pleasant Grove. Continue reading “_Rings of the Tree: A Multimedia Play_ Premieres in February”
Italian Mormon filmmaker Marco Lui’s LDS-themed comedy “The Book of Life” is now available as a digital download for only $4.99.
Those of you who attended last year’s LDS Film Festival (or read coverage of it) may recall the film “The Book of Life” by Marco Lui. It was quite the audience favorite, garnering favorable local media coverage and a very positive review at Mormon Artist Magazine. And if that’s not good enough for you — KevinB at AMV sister site LDS Cinema Online gives it a B+.
It is now available as a $4.99 download at Audience Alliance.
Not only is the film a new take on the classic “boy-girl meet in pre-existence and then meet again on earth narrative”, it’s an Italian (with English subtitles) LDS-themed comedy. Plus the press clippings (and people I know who have seen the film) say that Marco has a real gift for physical comedy. An Italian Mormon Modern-day Charlie Chaplin? That’s worth checking out.
Theric: Let’s start with the history of WWJD? Where did it come from? How did you find it? How did the New Play Project production do?
Davey: WWJD was written by Anna Lewis as her BYU Creative Writing Master’s Thesis. The idea started as a poem (which will be published later this year in Dialogue), and developed into a play through the BYU Writers-Dramaturgs-Actors workshop, led by Eric Samuelsen and Wade Hollingshaus. My wife, Bianca, was a dramaturg and actress in the workshop at the time, and got to see the script as it developed, offer feedback, and participate in the staged reading when it was finished. She loved the play, and had been wanting to produce it ever since; so, when we started planning New Play Project’s first season with Bianca as Artistic Director, WWJD was one of the first titles that came up. I finally read the script and completely adored it. We decided to do it. Continue reading “Kickstarting WWJD“