This is the first part of a series I’m writing on New Play Project, the most interesting and promising Mormon theater group to arrive on the scene for many years. Following installments will include:
Part Two: Little Happy Secrets: A Milestone in Mormon Drama
This piece will discuss on the significance of Melissa Leilani Larson’s groundbreaking play, which artistically put New Play Project on the map unlike anything else they had done previously.
Part Three: Prodigal Son: The Association of Mormon Letters Honors New Play Project
This piece will discuss James Goldberg’s short play “Prodigal Son” and the significance of it winning the AML’s 2008 Award for best play.
Part Four: Swallow the Sun and The Fading Flower: A personal perspective
In this piece I will discuss my own collaboration with New Play Project in producing my full length works.
Part Five: New Play Project: Here To Stay?
In the conclusion of the series, I’ll take a look at what I think it will take for New Play Project to survive.
Now onto Part One:
I’ll be honest, the first time I saw a show put on by New Play Project, I wasn’t particularly impressed. They were performing a set of short plays in a back room of the Provo library. Some of the writing was true quality, while other pieces were lackluster. The acting and directing were uneven as well. And they were performing on wooden planks placed upon cinder blocks with little or no budget. There were real nuggets of promise in the set of plays I saw, but it was all still very unrefined.
However, even back then they had two things that have shaped them into the robust organization they are today: passion and organization. Those involved in the Project were a group of volunteers who were doing it for no other apparent reason than that they loved both theater and the Gospel and were intent on building “values driven theater.” This passion was evident from their earnestness, their valiant effort and their intent to improve. As I became more acquainted with the group, I started to realize that these were people with a mission, ready to overcome the obstacles, discouragement and reckless criticism that comes against the birthing of any such group. Many of its leaders, such as the eloquent James Goldberg, the energetic Arisael Rivera and the sophisticated Bianca Dillard were ensuring the survival of the group through sheer belief, will power and work ethic. Continue reading “The Rise of the New Play Project, Part One: Humble Beginnings and a Bright Future”