January’s “Mormon Drama Spotlight”

MORMON DRAMA SPOTLIGHT

Every month I also plan on setting little spotlights on little news items and tidbits about Mormon Drama along with the monthly Scripting Mormon Drama spot. So here goes our first crop of notables for the month of January:

The Book of Mormon Musical… by the creators of South Park!

South park Mormon Musical Some of us who have had the misfortune of seeing one of Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s strangely malicious AND strangely affectionate lampoons about Latter-day Saint religion, history, and culture on their  irreverent and crude show South Park . At least the tongue in cheek South Park segment about the people in hell being told, “The correct answer was… the Mormons,” has some healthy appreciation among Mormons and is often quoted with nervous laughter. There is also a relatively positive spin on Mormon family life and FHE in one episode, but their distorted and erroneous version of Mormon history shows Martin Harris as a duped idiot, with Lucy Harris being the smart one (of course neglecting to mention that Martin Harris and the three witnesses report to seeing the plates and an angel) and showing Joseph Smith as a charlatan offends Mormon sensibilities, making us all seem as much of stupid dupes  as their version of Martin Harris. And don’t get me started on their “Super Friends” spoof of creating a super hero team out of major religious figures, including Joseph Smith, Jesus, and Mohammed (at least we’re not the only ones in their cross hairs).  Parker and Stone were also the creators of the purportedly filthy film  Orgasmo, about an LDS missionary who becomes a porn star to pay for his mission (uh… what?!). So for some of us, the news about Parker and Stone making a Broadway musical about Mormons came with a certain amount of dread and morbid curiosity.

I’ve had my high school students authoritatively quote these twisted, offensive segments to me as if they were true, penetrating exposes on Mormonism,  so I’m a little afraid of where these two creators’ morbid fascination with our religion is going to take them this time and how it will again capitalize on us for a few cheap laughs and some dirty jabs. Of course, they’ll do it while stating it with enough of a smile and sense of pretended understanding that will illicit comments like this from Vogue Magazine:

“It is, hands down, the filthiest, most offensive, and–surprise–sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway this year, and quite possibly the funniest musical ever.”

Here’s a couple of news items about the upcoming show (which begins Feb. 24th), including a filmed interview with Trey and Parker with the New York Post:

http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/popwrap/from_south_park_to_broadway_okelmt8N33qQOG1MvR15QK

http://www.playbill.com/playblog/2011/01/the-book-of-mormon-promo-video/

The premise of the musical:  two Mormon missionaries serving in Africa, seems benign enough until it’s revealed that one of them is a closet homosexual (of course pairing Mormons with this divisive issue hasn’t been done before! Here we go again…) and until you realize that nothing by these two satirists is ever benign.

New Play Project’s Two Upcoming Plays: He and She Fighting, A Love Story and WWJD

On a happier note, New Play Project continues its commitment to producing new Mormon Drama, with upcoming plays by Eric Samuelsen and Anna Christina Kohler Lewis. Continue reading “January’s “Mormon Drama Spotlight””

In the footsteps of Stephenie Meyer?

aaaaaCondie-Matched This past week’s Publishers Weekly has an article about the national market “debut” of LDS YA novelist Ally Condie, whose sixth novel, Matched, was released by Dutton on November 30th. Released is an understatement.

Continue reading “In the footsteps of Stephenie Meyer?”

Mormon Women’s Literary Tour Starts Monday

Since I’m behind and won’t have my weekly post on the History of Mormon Publishing this week, I thought I’d pass along the news about the Mormon Women’s Literary Tour that starts this coming Monday in California and proceeds to venues in Arizona and Utah through the end of the month.
Continue reading “Mormon Women’s Literary Tour Starts Monday”

The Whitney Awards, Irreantum submissions and an Angolan artist

A quick look at the Whitney Awards

By now, I’m sure all of AMV’s readers have seen the announcement of this year’s finalists for the Whitney Awards. Congratulations to AMV’s Jonathan Langford for being selected as a finalist in the General Fiction category. He is also eligible for the best novel by a new author award. Full disclosure: I am not a Whitney voter. I believe Theric is. I don’t know if anybody else associated with AMV is. Updated disclosure, 3/21/2010: Rob Wells convinced me to be a Whitney Awards voter. I will be for sure voting in the Speculative Fiction and Historical Fiction categories. It is also quite likely that I will be able to finish reading the novels in the General Fiction category, as well.

I’ve compiled a quick breakdown of who published the finalists. It’s a pretty decent mix, actually: Continue reading “The Whitney Awards, Irreantum submissions and an Angolan artist”

Reviews: Farewell To Eden

My play Farewell To Eden, which has its closing performances this Friday, Saturday (matinee and evening, and Monday) at the Provo Theatre (105 East, 100 North in Provo), has been getting some good press. As some shameless self promotion and a plug for the closing performances, I wanted to share a couple of the positive reviews.

First, one from AML’s Nan McCulloch, who is one of my favorite theatre reviewers (and not just because she’s generally very supportive of my plays). Nan’s just one of the more insightful and intelligent theatre critics I’ve come across… and it doesn’t hurt that she always seems to “get” my plays. :] Here’s the link to her review on the AML discussion board:

http://www.forums.mormonletters.org/yaf_postsm1967_STEWART-Farewell-to-Eden.aspx#1967

Second, one from the Deseret News. For the record, although the reviewer Sharon Haddock thought the play lacked some “hope,” I would respectfully disagree. I just think the hope in the play is more subtle than she would have liked… perhaps she would have preferred a more wrapped up ending, so we’ll just have to disagree artistically. Otherwise, she was very complimentary. Here’s the link:

 http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705359376/Farewell-to-Eden-absorbing-but-bleak.html

  For those who are interested in seeing the closing performances, you can make reservations by sending an e-mail to zion.theatre.company@gmail.com , with your name, how many tickets you want, and for which performance you want. Performances start at 7:30 on evenings, and 2 pm for the matinee.

News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News

This past week has been quite busy for news about the LDS market and the publishing industry. The following are noteworthy:

  • Cedar Fort saw unexpected promotional success with Melissa Moore‘s book, Shattered Silence, which will be the subject of an Oprah episode that airs September 17th.
  • Deseret Management announced that the websites of Deseret Book, KSL, the Deseret News, LDS Church News, and Mormon Times will now all be managed by a new division in the company, Deseret Digital.
  • A 17-year-old American Fork teenager M’Lin Rowley, signed a 10-book deal with Deseret Book‘s Shadow Mountain imprint.

Continue reading “News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News”

Irreantum contest results, new Mormon Artist and The Mormon Review

I wasn’t going to do another round up post so soon, but three big pieces of news broke over the weekend (and in to yesterday — which was still my weekend because me and the family went to the Minnesota State Fair) that deserve a mention:

1. The have been announced. Irreantum co-editor Angela Hallstrom wrote in to the AML-list and said that while winning the contest is no guarantee of publication in Irreantum, most likely most of the winners will see their work featured in the magazine. Of note, for the first time the organizers revealed the number of entries — 71 for the fiction contest and 42 for the personal essay contest.

2. There’s a new edition of Mormon Artist. It includes a fascinating feature article by Iconia blogger (and artist and critic) Menachem Wecker titled “Are scholars and museums ignoring Mormon artists?” Mormon Artist editor Ben Crowder also announced that their fiction contest results and special issue should be available soon and that Mormon Artists is moving from a bi-monthly to quarterly schedule. As we’ve come to expect, this edition of Mormon Artist features great photography and illustration. In general, the Mormon publications have stepped up their game the past few years with their visual appeal — although some could still use better design and graphics.

3. The Mormon Review, a blog/online journal devoted to cultural criticism from a Mormon perspective, launched yesterday with a look at the two versions of Battlestar Galactica by James Bennett. I like that you can download PDF versions of the file. I think it’s weak that discussion on the articles is slotted over to time Times & Seasons. I’m not sure how The Mormon Review is going to carve out its own identity when most of the publicly viewed energy is directed towards T&S.  But it’s off to a rollicking start, and it’ll be interesting to see what future articles bring us.