Out of the Mount: “Caution”

Out of the Mount.

The opening lines from “Caution” by Julie Saunders:

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(A line of Caution Tape separates one half of the stage from another. ONE enters from right. She starts to cross the stage, then is stopped by the tape. Reads the tape curiously, tries to see what’s on the other side.)

ONE. Hm.

(She turns away, setting down a lunch pail. From left, TWO        enters, walking very quickly. She stops just short of running       into it, steps back confused. She tries to see what’s on the other side.  Both ONE and TWO are very ordinary people, perhaps dressed for business. Though I refer to them by female pronouns here, they’re “Gender Indifferent”, and can be played equally well by men or women.)

TWO. Excuse me.

ONE. Hm?

TWO. Do you work over there?

ONE. What?

TWO. Over there – what are they doing?

ONE. Where?

TWO. Well, aren’t they . . . I mean, don’t you work over there?

ONE. Me?

TWO. Yes.

ONE. Oh.  No, I’m just passing through.  Do you work over there?

TWO. What, over here?  No, I’m just passing through.

ONE. Well then what are you doing over there?

TWO. What are you doing over there?

ONE. There’s a Caution line – “Do not cross.”

TWO. That’s what mine says.

ONE. What?

(They approach the line, examine it. Distress.)

TWO. Oh no.

ONE. It’s double-sided.

TWO. This is not good.  Not good.

ONE. So then which of us needs the Caution?

TWO. I…I don’t know.  Do you think I need it?

ONE. Am I working right now?

TWO. Am I?

(They look around themselves, trying to find some clue, but none are forthcoming.)

ONE. Well, I’m definitely going to need a hard hat.

Read the whole thing
in Out of the Mount,
available NOW!

Out of the Mount: “Based on Truish Stories”

Out of the Mount.

An excerpt from “Based on Truish Stories” by Katherine Gee:

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GIRL 1. Did you ever like Christopher?

MARIA. Ew…gross.

GIRL 2. If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?

MARIA (Thinking). Um…My own house.

GIRL 3. Have you kissed a boy?


GIRL 3. French kissed a boy!?

(Giggles start.)

GIRL 3. Have you ever had se…?

(She’s cut off by laughter and gasps.)


GIRL 1. Shh! Maria doesn’t know what that is yet.


GIRL 2 (Loudly, over the laughter). How did your parents die?

(Sudden silence.)

MARIA (Uncomfortably). I don’t know. It happened when I was little.

GIRL 2. Do you believe in God?

(GRANDMOTHER appears behind Maria.)

MARIA. I…Well… Do you believe in God, Grandmother?

GRANDMOTHER. Course I do, Maria. Everyone believes in God.

MARIA. Everyone?

GRANDMOTHER. Everyone who’s a child of God does.

MARIA. What if you don’t believe in God?

GRANDMOTHER (Matter-of-factly). You’re a child of the devil, and you go to Hell.

MARIA. Did my parents go to Hell?

GRANDMOTHER. Of course not. They went to Heaven.

MARIA (To GIRLS). Of course I believe in God…don’t you?

Read the whole thing
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Out of the Mount: “Irrational Numbers”

Out of the Mount.

An excerpt from “Irrational Numbers” by C. Adam Stallard:

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MOM. And they said that they eat 1/3 of their body weight a day, and that’s all in oysters and fish that they dive down to the bottom to get, though they never go to shore to eat them, they just float on their backs and prepare the food on their stomachs.

ANGIE. So I found out today that Robby IS going to Jefferson, instead of getting bussed to the private school.  I told him it was better even though his Mom keeps trying to convince–

MOM (Louder). That’s a lot of food don’t you think?  Also, they have to spend one quarter of their waking lives grooming themselves

(ANGIE joins in even louder talking over top of MOM’s next line.)

ANGIE. We learned something about pi today at school.  Mr. Giovanni said that someone memorized pi to 50,000 places.

MOM. because if their fur gets dirty it won’t be as effective at keeping them warm, and staying warm is crucial for the otter because it lives in very cold oceans.

ANGIE (Yelling). Is that what your doing Mom?

DAD. Angie!  You know better than to interrupt your mother at dinner.

ANGIE. Sorry.  It’s just I was getting bored of sea otters.

MOM. No, your teacher was talking about pi.  I’m working on the square root of 2.

ANGIE. Isn’t that the same thing?

MOM. No, pi has to do with circles.  The square root of two has to do with squares.

ANGIE. Don’t people who want to break a record for memorizing a number work on pi?  That has to be the most common one, right?

DAD. Speaking of pi, we have ice cream for dessert.

Read the whole thing
in Out of the Mount,
available NOW!

Out of the Mount: “On Being a Priest”

Out of the Mount.

The opening lines from “On Being a Priest” by Eric & Mary Emma Heaps:

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(On the El in Chicago. A CATHOLIC PRIEST enters, and sits down next to a MORMON PRIEST. The CATHOLIC  PRIEST accidentally drops his Bible.)

CATHOLIC. Oh, excuse me.

MORMON. No problem.

(The boy hands it back.)

MORMON. Good reading material.


MORMON. Where are you at?


MORMON. I’m in 1 Peter. Where are you?

CATHOLIC. Oh, Revelation.

MORMON (Inhaling sharply). Whoo. Can’t wait till I get there.

CATHOLIC. Nothing stopping you from reading it now.

MORMON. Well, I’m just—it’s just, I’m reading it as part of—for seminary.

CATHOLIC. Seminary? Aren’t you a little young for seminary?

MORMON. Well, in my church we have it for four years, from, like, fourteen to eighteen.

CATHOLIC. You graduate at eighteen?


CATHOLIC. Then do you become a priest?

MORMON. No, I’m already a priest.

CATHOLIC. Well, I wish it had been that simple for me.

Read the whole thing
in Out of the Mount,
available NOW!

Out of the Mount: Superheroes

Out of the Mount.

Two plays in Out of the Mount deal with superheroes, Bianca Dillard’s “No One’s Superman” and Lyvia Martinez’s “The Illegal Alien”.

Mormon writers are often, fairly or unfairly, dismissed categorically as a bunch of fantasy writers. And while certainly true that Mormons are surprisingly common in fantasy, science fiction, and related genres, outside of actual comics, written works about superheroes are relatively rare so having two in one volume is striking.

Neither of these plays features actual Mormon superheroes (for that you will have to look elsewhere, for instance my own play titled “Mormon Superhero“) and of all the plays in the collection, they are perhaps the most resistant to a Mormon reading.

But “resistant” is code for being particularly fruitful and I suspect that more theories will eventually be promoted here than for the other more obviously Mormon works. I’ll go first.

For starters, the superheroes in this book are painfully real. They have eating disorders and immigration issues. Yet they put on a happy face and continue to save the day.

The idea that Mormons are perfectly nice (etc) results in pressures that many have difficulty coping with.

Plus, doctrinally, Mormons are aiming for godhood.

What better metaphor than a beleaguered superhero?

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Read your own copy then return and discuss.

Out of the Mount: Mad Blurbery

Out of the Mount.

The blurb we have selected to appear on the back of the book is this, from William Morris of A Motley Vision:

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.

Now available for purchase.

Out of the Mount: Davey Morrison

Out of the Mount.

Davey Morrison did not join New Play Project until halfway through it’s four-year to-date history. And even then he joined, as he admits in Out of the Mount‘s introduction, to impress a girl. But one thing led to another and soon he wrote his first play, “Adam and Eve”, which was produced in 2008 and again in 2009, then published in Mormon Artist making it, perhaps, the most widely seen/read play to appear in our upcoming book.

Morrison is the editor of Out of the Mount and he wasn’t shy. He’s included three of his plays (and one of his now-wife’s). Unquestionably the most powerful of the three is “To Be Continued”. A man lies dying of cancer with nothing but oblivion to look forward to. Perhaps some claim that there are no atheists in foxholes. Perhaps the truth is that those who see death have the best view of God’s absence.

Out of the Mount comes out of the Mormon tradition, but the simplistic way that phrase is often interpreted utterly fails to capture the depth and breadth of the works Morrison has collected here. While certain “Mormon” themes do emerge (relationships, freedom of choice, the responsibility to know for oneself), never does the book feel like a polemic or a treatise or a tract.

It is instead a collection of art. Art that Peculiar Pages is proud to present.

Now available for purchase.

Out of the Mount: Eric Samuelsen

Out of the Mount.

Eric Samuelsen has two plays in our upcoming Out of the Mount. the first, “The Exact Total Opposite”, is part of a series of plays starring He and She that New Play Project is producing next February. The other play, “Gaia”, is in serious competition for the best short play I’ve read in the past ten years.

As reviewed by Gideon Burton (this link also includes reviews of Out of the Mount plays “Based on True-ish Stories”, “Foxgloves” and “A Burning in the Bosom”),  “Gaia” makes “stereotypes of downtrodden Mormon women ring ever more hollow” as a premortal Eve stands down Lucifer and proves her strength and worthiness to be the mother of all living only shortly before the days of Eden.

Rumor has it that “Gaia” is the planned opening scene to a full-length work from Samuelsen.

We can only hope so.

Now available for purchase.

Out of the Mount: Melissa Leilani Larson

Out of the Mount.

Melissa Leilani Larson is generally considered to be one of the best playwrights working in the Mormon tradition today. Originally from Hawai‘i, she is based now in central Utah. Her list of accomplishments is long (link) but at the moment her most known work is probably Little Happy Secrets (included in our upcoming volume, Out of the Mount).

AML-Award winner in 2009 for best drama (citation), this is the beautiful story of a young returned Mormon missionary struggling with her sexuality as the friend she loves falls in love herself with a man who is just wrong for her.

The play was first produced by New Play Project in March 2009, but an older version is available in its entirety online as an audiocast (link).

Little Happy Secrets may also be produced again later this year if funding can be obtained in time. (For information on how you can help, click here.)

The beauty of this play is difficult to overstate.

A second Larson play will also appear in Out of the Mount. “A Burning in the Bosom” is also part of New Play Project’s best-of spectacular coming this September in conjunction with the book release.

Now available for purchase.

Out of the Mount: James Goldberg

Out of the Mount.

I first read a James Goldberg play in my copy of Curelom Press’s Best of Mormonism 2009 (my review) and I was stunned by its excellence. That play, “The Prodigal Son”, is also an AML-Award winner (citation) and fully deserving of all the praise heaped on it.

I was stunned to later learn that Goldberg is a kid, only in his midtwenties. His work is so measured and certain, I had assumed he was an artist who had been in his prime for decades.

The other Goldberg play in Out of the Mount is “Book of Mormon Stories”, a bit of midrashery that competes with “The Prodigal Son” for the right to call itself my favorite. In this one, two sister missionaries teach a suburban former cokehead about the Book of Mormon, and he teaches them about King Noah’s snowy habits. Can’t miss reading.

Find Goldberg online at one of his three blogs, My Life and Hard Times (in which he screws with you), Caucajewmexdian (in which he explores his complicated heritage), or Mormon Midrashim (in which he takes midrash to its Mormon limits).

Now available for purchase.