I’ve written before about the once great status of Mormon theatre, and the infrastructure it once enjoyed. So I was pleased to find comments about the beginning of this infrastructure from Horace G. Whitney, longtime Deseret News editor-in-chief and the paper’s drama critic. In my opinion infrastructure, broadly conceived, accounts for much of what has happened in Mormon drama over the past century. Whitney, in the article below, describes a vision of how drama could operate under the MIA and ward amusement committees (which were roughly the equivalent of the recently disbanded ward activities committees, I assume).
Mormon Drama reached something of a high point in the 1950s. Hundreds of performances of plays occurred in wards and stakes under the auspices of the MIA, which published as many as a dozen or more plays in its annual MIA Book of Plays.
Terryl Givens, in his recent People of the Paradox writes that this anthology contained “offerings largely obtained through national playhouses.”1 However, depending on how you read “largely” this might be misinterpreted. By my count nearly 25% of the plays in these anthologies were Mormon works.