Utah Theater Bloggers Association, which is making a serious play at being the preeminent source of live-theater reviews in metropolitan Utah, has reviewed New Play Project’s new show. Although I have read all these plays (they are part of our volume Out of the Mount) and although I already knew I would like to see them performed live, I’ve never been quite so jealous of those who will get to see this show as I am now. the very idea of Eric Samuelsen playing the father in Prodigal Son gives me chills.
But whether you can make the show or not, the book is still available for purchase — including the entire text in several ebook versions for under four dollars.
The Association of Mormon Letters announced the winners of the Irreantum Fiction Contest and the Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay Contest. Among the honorees are James Goldberg whose work appears in Out of the Mount and Eric W Jepson, coeditor of The Fob Bible and Monsters & Mormons. Goldberg won third place in the fiction contest and second in the essay; Jepson received an honorable mention for fiction. Congratulations, gentlemen!
Everyone who purchases Out of the Mount will receive a free electronic bonus of six additional plays. These plays are:
“Something Shocking” by Enoch Allred
With young playwrights, one generally assumes that there will be an overabundance of absurdism. It’s easy to do poorly and, to wax snobby for a moment, unsophisticates can’t tell the difference between poorly done absurdism and absurdism done well. On top of that, most readers, have a low tolerance for even the best absurdist theater. And so I think editor Davey Morrison made the right decision, putting only one into the book proper (“Caution” by Julie Saunders) and one in the bonus section. This allowed him to include only the two bits of absurdism that he considered the very best. Once you’ve read them, let us know if you agree with his taste in the absurd.
“Lettuce Alone” by Bianca Dillard
Dillard, author of “No One’s Superman“, turns now to more earthbound fare — a mother and stepfather dealing with a teenage daughter on the cusp of her first date with a cuter-than-average boy. The dynamics between protecting and letting go, authority and autonomy, run into walls when parents no longer how to tell jokes that are funny. (Hint: Jokes about condoms are generally a bad idea, moms.)
“Maror” by James Goldberg
Goldberg is in fine form with this third play. At moments, just as it seems about to drop into so-called misery porn, it becomes something much much more. Maror, remember, means bitter herbs. And the religious significance of bitter herbs is something we can, in our koosh modern lives, sometime forget. But, oh, remember, remember.
“Job Well Done” by Matthew Greene
This play has been replaying in my mind for a week now and I feel strongly that you will love it too. What I’m unsure of is how to sell it to you without making it sounds like a simplistic morality tale which is is not is not is not. The scene opens on a successful old lawyer and his trophy wife. He has just successfully defended a well-paying polygamist and his wife engages him on what that man’s relationship was with his wives, how he treated them as property, an object, a possession. And she comes very very close to seeing a greater truth, but — will she be able to finally grasp it?
“A Restaurant” by Katherine Gee
If I were a parodist looking to take on Out of the Mount as my next project, I might focus on the number of plays that deal with romantic couples. Particularly those arguing. But that opportunity for parody might be deflated by Gee‘s awesome deconstruction of the trope. On the one hand, there are three couples, two of whom are engaged in dialogues that might, to the cynic, sound vaguely familiar. But the layering of these couples’ stories combined with the outside observations of a waiter and waitress allow the audience the chance to think critically about what it means — in theater or in life — to eavesdrop upon people’s intimate conversations without any context beyond that presented in the moment. This interplay in eavesdropping creates additional layers of meaning. Which is a fancyschmancy way of saying it’s lots of fun.
Así Es (That’s Just How It Is) by Lyvia Martínez
One of the great projects at the moment in Mormon letters is finding the voice of Mormons outside America. Perhaps a Puerto Rican kid at BYU doesn’t quite fit that description, but the difficulty he has fitting in to a culture that he assumed he already belonged to offers us a window into the complexities involved in navigating a worldwide American faith where “Even the names in the Book of Mormon are hard to remember. Nefi, Neefai; Leji, Leehai.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy six more plays from New Play Project!
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).