Tonight in Provo

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Tonight in Provo, New Play Project begins a series of shows featuring five of their most popular plays:

“A Burning in the Bosom,” by Melissa Leilani Larson
“Foxgloves,” by Matthew Greene
“Gaia,” by Eric Samuelsen
“Adam and Eve,” by Davey Morrison
“Prodigal Son,” by James Goldberg

I have a vested interest in these revivals as I helped publish, through Peculiar Pages, the volume Out of the Mount which features these and fourteen other excellent plays produced by NPP over their short yet remarkably fruitful existence.

Currently, you can get two-for-one tickets to the first weekend’s shows if you invite ten or more Provo-local Facebook friends to the Facebook Event. They are also doing straight-up ticket giveaways to tonight’s show on their website and Facebook page.

I’m quite jealous of anyone close enough to see the show. I’ve gone on and on elsewhere about how much I love “Gaia” (1) and “Prodigal Son” (1 2) but all five of these plays are excellent and worthy of your attention (1 2 4 5 6). (Seventh witness via William Morris.)

Go and witness for yourself (Sept. 16-20 and 24-27, 7:30pm; $7 general admission, $6 students with ID).

And pick up a copy of Out of the Mount.

Then return and report.

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My take on Out of the Mount: 19 From New Play Project

So we have Peculiar Pages, which is Theric Jepson’s imprint. We have MoJo’s B10 Mediaworx, an indie publisher known for creating e-books that look great. And we have New Play Project, which has put together an impressive track record of productions over its (relatively) short history. Put that all together and you get Out of the Mount: 19 From New Play Project, edited by Dave Morrison. And for only $3.99, you get a set of plays that are well-written, thought-provoking, fun to read and together form a significant contribution to Mormon letters. A trade paperback is also available and a Kindle edition is forthcoming (although the mobi file you get in the e-book download should be readable on your Kindle or via the Kindle app).

And in the interest of full disclosure, Peculiar Pages is not only the imprint that will be publishing Monsters & Mormons, but it also asked me to provide a blurb for the anthology. Which I was initially nervous about, but happily did after reading the manuscript. Here it is:

With these 19 plays, the New Play Project ably makes its claim as one of the most ambitious and vibrant going concerns in the world of LDS culture to all of us mission-field Mormons who have only heard rumors and testimonies. Out of the Mount delivers comedy and tragedy and social commentary, allegory, politics and healthy doses of armchair philosophy and theology in plays that mainly focus on (as most good plays do) relationships that unfold via crackling dialogue. Whether it’s Clark Kent and Lois Lane applying for a marriage license or Adam and Eve feeling their way towards some sort of post-fall rapprochement or young couples falling in and out of love, these playwrights are writing for these latter-days, even when there’s nothing particularly LDS about their characters and settings. That said, what I love most about this anthology is that we get–especially with the fantastic concluding trio of “Gaia,” “Prodigal Son” and “Little Happy Secrets”–works that artfully and poignantly explore key aspects of the grand drama that is the Mormon experience.

You can ; but you should also check out Theric’s series of posts on the anthology (including excerpts from some of the plays) over at the Peculiar Pages blog.

Beyond Prescription? Problematizing Mormon Identity and the Future of Mormon Literary Studies

Note: What follows is part one of a serialized essay in/on Mormon literary criticism. It was catalyzed by William’s series on the radical middle and some other recent posts elsewhere dealing with the problem(s) of Mormon literature (that litany of links is just a sample). My hope is that this series and any ensuing discussion will be something of a departure from “normal” conversations about Mormon lit and that it can open up new ways of reading as a Mormon.

Feel free, of course, to talk back with me as this four to five part series unfolds. The “theory” I posit is still very much in progress.

Look for part two sometime Thursday.

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Beyond Prescription? Problematizing Mormon Identity and the Future of Mormon Literary Studies

[T]he multiplicity of religious and irreligious practices engaged in […] by those who lay claim to the nominations “Mormon” and “post-Mormon,” much less “Jack Mormon,” […] boggles the mind.

-Bryan Waterman

Confluences

These past several months I’ve been wrestling with myself, with the Heavens, trying to gain some hold for my intellectual desires and work in a broader conceptual universe. This struggle has really just been an extension and intensification (due to the academic path I’ve been negotiating recently) of my continuing quest to find what Wayne Booth might call “a plausible harmony” between “my many selves.” Among others, the believing Mormon, who seeks greater communion with God by trying to live by His laws as voiced by His prophets and to serve with faith in what he considers God’s church (no matter the institution’s flaws); the husband, who has obligated himself through what he considers unbreakable promises to honor his bride, her potential as a human being, their combined potential as wife and husband, and the fruits of their eternal marriage; and the poet, teacher, and literary scholar who is compelled by the incessant prodding of vocation to share his rhetorical gifts with the world–you know, the whole don’t-hide-your-light-under-a-bushel deal.

My continued challenge is learning to balance these passions, to engage with each in an honest, quality, pleasing, even–ideally–transformative experience for the parties involved. In short, I yearn to make a positive difference in the world (though I admit the intangibility and the potential “O, that I were an angel“ discontent of that desire), to create a space in which I can identify with and influence others, in which I can allow their voices, their stories, their selves, to gather, to mingle, to develop, to expand into and revise the stories I came from. Continue reading “Beyond Prescription? Problematizing Mormon Identity and the Future of Mormon Literary Studies”

Short Story Friday: Tales of Teancum Singh Rosenberg by James Goldberg

I like to reward work of Mormon narrative art that is well crafted AND made available for free online so I awaited the Mormon Artist Contest Issue (which my sister Katherine co-edited and my other sister Ann helped copyedit) with much anticipation. It features work by Mormon artists under the age of 30, and AMV’s own Tyler Chadwick scored an honorable mention with his poem “For the Man in the Red Jacket.”

However, to my dismay, short fiction was not to be found among any of the winners or honorable mentions — we have 3 poems, a personal essay and a short play. Certainly all well-w0rth reading (and it’s interesting how many of the works featured play with scripture in somewhat similar ways to my Speculations series and Theric’s The FOB Bible), but my core literary love is fiction, and so it was a delight to discover a bonus addition to the issue — a set of tales by special edition co-editor James Goldberg that are informed by his interesting mix of ethnic identities.

Title: Tales of Teancum Singh Rosenberg

Author: James Goldberg

Publication Info: Mormon Artist, Nov. 2009

Submitted by: William Morris

Why?: Wm says: “I like how Goldberg takes these three ethnic elements from his own poly-ethnic background — that is Mormon, Sikh, Jew — as well as certain elements from each of those cultures storytelling traditions and melds them together. It both legitimizes and complicates the concept of Mormon ethnicity, but setting aside all the theory — it’s a fun series of mini-tales to read.

Also: how can I not reward a mixture of humor, folk tale and parable?”

Participate:

Submit to Short Story Friday

Possible online sources of stories and link to spreadsheet with current submissions

All Short Story Friday posts so far