2 March 2010 9 Comments

Awards and Things.

It’s been a good weekend. I had some good news — officially signed a contract with BYU for their production of Jane Austen’s Persuasion this time next year, which is very exciting. Also found out that Barta Heiner is directing that show, which is thrilling and intimidating all at the same time.

Also, this past Saturday I participated in the annual conference of the Association for Mormon Letters; I’m celebrating my third year as an official member. I was privileged to hear some intriguing papers on theories and practices in LDS literature. Good times. One of the highlights was attending a screening of the 1931 epic Corianton: An Unholy Love Story, probably the first existing Mormon-themed motion picture. Some very interesting stuff going on cinematically. The melodrama is pretty laughable, but it was really fascinating to see the whole thing and to think it was believed lost until someone found the print in a box in a barn in Washington State. Wow.

Anyway, there were two particular high points to the day. The first was at the luncheon where I won an award! Yay! Little Happy Secrets received the 2009 AML Award for Drama. I have a very nice certificate inscribed with the following:

In those dark and dangerous spaces where the political and personal collide, some works seem to flail around hopelessly in the dark, as though the sheer heat of exertion might lead to illumination. Others prefer, in modesty and humor and affection, to simply light a candle. Such a work is Melissa Leilani Larson’s play Little Happy Secrets, particularly as seen in a marvelous production last year by the New Play Project in Provo. A young woman finds herself romantically obsessed with her dearest friend and roommate. She worries that revealing the truth will the friendship — she also can’t help herself, and the friendship is nearly destroyed. Is her culture thereby condemned? No, Larson has written a play, not a polemic. If anything, the play is a celebration, of a culture rooted in compassion, of a plan that requires heartbreak and loss and pain. A celebration of heartbreak. Larson writes dialogue with a directness and simple eloquence, in which the characters move from conversations with each other to a larger conversation with the audience and, through us, with Mormonism itself. How can we love, how can we persist in loving, knowing our hearts will be broken, our spirits made contrite? The Association for Mormon Letters is proud to be able to honor Melissa Leilani Larson for Little Happy Secrets.

Needless to say, that just about made my year. Initially my fears surrounding this particular play came down to whether or not it would be accepted by Mormons. I have been so pleasantly surprised by the warm responses, both to the original production, the audio play, and even just readings. The second high point came in the evening when I cajoled some actor friends who read two scenes from the play at a reception for the award winners. Christie Clark from the original cast as well as Emily and Ames Bell were kind enough to give me their Saturday evening and did a swell job reading. I think it made the difference, too; I don’t consider myself an actor, and the play is meant to be performed. I think things went really well, and I’m very pleased that this little play still continues to make ripples. Anyway.

I’m tooting my own horn and need to let that go, at least for the moment. Until later…

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