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Photo by Nick Stone.

Between October and November 2016, Plan-B Theatre’s FEST production of The Edible Complex toured 42 schools across 7 Utah counties, where it was seen by 15,000 school children.

Getting ready for the FEST (Free Elementary School Tour) tour of The Edible Complex, Mel wrote Ten Foods I Like an Awful Lot for the Plan-B blog.

Mel was interviewed by Megan Crivello of the Utah Theatre Bloggers Association for her article Perfectly Portioned: Playwright Melissa Leilani Larson on Mixing Food and Body Image in Plan-B’s The Edible Complex.

Sweetheart, Come was a semifinalist for the 2016 National Playwrights Conference, hosted by the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Centre.

Pride and Prejudice enjoyed a sold-out run at Miami University Ohio in February 2016. Mel was able to attend two excellent performances and visit several classes.

Freetown enjoyed several weeks as the #1 best-selling DVD at Deseret Book, and continues to sell well.

Pilot Program was one of three Plan-B Theatre world premieres nominated for Best Original Play by Salt Lake City Weekly. It was nominated for and won the Association for Mormon Letters Drama award (Mel’s third since 2009).

Freetown was nominated for 10 Ghana Movie awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay—in fact, it won Best Screenplay! Freetown was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards and won Best Picture at the Utah Film awards.

Mel, director Jerry Rapier, and cast members April Fossen, Mark Fossen, and Susanna Florence Risser met with Doug Fabrizio on KUER’s RadioWest to discuss Pilot Program.

Mel is the featured guest in Episode 170 of the podcast The Cultural Hall. 

Mel was interviewed by LDS.net about her play Pilot Program

The Utah Review previews Plan-B Theatre Company’s production of Pilot Program. 

Mel’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice won the 2014 Association for Mormon Letters drama award; all of the winners were listed in The Deseret News

Freetown is an official selection of the 2015 Pan African Film Festival and will screen at their LA festival February 5 – 16.

Photos from the Ghana shoot of Freetown, as well as the teaser poster, are featured on the African film website Cinetion.

Mel gets a great shoutout in a recent interview Freetown director Garrett Batty did for the Flix Junkies podcast: “Melissa Leilani Larson who is just a phenomenal writer, we met early on in this process and I showed her some of my notes and the stories that I had found, and she put together a script that is just phenomenal. We’re very excited to have her be a part of this.” Thanks, Garrett!

BYU’s premiere production of Pride and Prejudice is included as one of the best new plays in Utah in 2014, receiving a mention in the Utah Theatre Bloggers Association’s Excellence in 2014 blog post.

Pilot Program got a shout-out in the December 2014 issue of American Theatre Magazine, where Plan-B Theatre Company is featured in an article: “14 Theatrical Plans to Change the World.” Get your Pilot Program tickets here.

Together with director Garrett Batty, Mel recently did an interview discussing Freetown with BYU’s newspaper, The Universe. 

Mel is the guest on the inaugural episode of the Mormon Artist podcast. She and host Katherine Morris discuss Freetown  and Pilot Program.

The Utah Review has posted a new article highlighting the family values expressed in Plan-B Theatre Company’s current season (including the world premiere of Pilot Program).

Mel has a post on the Plan-B Theatre Company’s blog discussing Pilot Program

Pride and Prejudice won a 2014 City Weekly Arty award, a staff pick for “Best Modern Jane”. Woohoo!

Pilot Program got a great shoutout on the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog in early September.

Mel was interviewed about her work and current projects this weekend for the Rational Faiths podcast. You can hear the interview here.

Pilot Program, along with the rest of Plan-B Theatre Company’s season of new work, gets a shout out in City Weeklyoutlining Salt Lake’s upcoming theatre season.

Mel has written the screenplay for Freetown, a new film which recently completed production on location in Ghana. The film is directed by Garrett Batty, the award-winning writer/director of The Saratov Approach, and produced by Adam Abel (Saints & Soldiers), and is expected to be in theaters in April 2015. Check out the film’s IMDB page here.

Into the Woods enjoyed a successful run, attracting several sold-out houses and a lot of laughs.

Mel is included in an Utah Theatre Bloggers article about Plan-B Theatre Company’s Playwrights Lab.

Mel is presently directing Into the Woods at the Echo Theatre in Provo. Opens Friday, July 18 and runs weekends through August 23. Tuesday night’s dress rehearsal was the subject of a photo essay in the Daily Herald; Mel was also interviewed about the show by the Herald here.

Mel has been collaborating with composer/lyricist Erica Glenn on the book for a new musical, The Weaver of Raveloeinspired by George Eliot’s Silas Marner. Weaver will have its premiere staging at the American Repetory Theatre’s Oberon second stage May 29 – 30. You can hear sample songs and find out more about The Weaver of Raveloe here, make a donation supporting the performance here, and read the Broadway World press release here.

Mel’s first fully professional/AEA production is happening in April 2015! Her new play Pilot Program has been selected to be part of Plan-B Theatre Company’s upcoming season, directed by Jerry Rapier and featuring performances by April and Mark Fossen. Broadway World announces Plan-B’s 2014/15 season here, and the Utah Cultural Alliance announces it here. There are also great preview articles in The Salt Lake Tribune and The Utah Review.

Mel has been invited, along with Eric Samuelsen and Wendy Gourley, to be on a panel discussing playwriting at the Orem Library Tuesday, April 15, at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Pride and Prejudice is the Daily Herald’s “Perfect Date”.

Persuasion will be produced at The College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University April 3-5, 6, 10-12, 2014, directed by Adam Houghton. See CSB/SJU’s upcoming theatre season here. The scene shop posted this great video showing part of the set being painted. Tickets are available here.

Mel was a guest on BYU Radio’s Morning Show March 26th to chat for a few minutes about Pride and Prejudice. Listen to the episode here; starts at around 39:00 minutes in. UPDATE: Mel’s segment on the Morning Show was featured as “the Best of the Week” on the following Saturday.

Martyrs’ Crossing was staged at Hillcrest High School in Midvale, Utah, March 27 – 29, 2014.

Mel’s first commissioned work, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was staged in BYU’s Pardoe Theatre, directed by Barta Lee Heiner, March 21 – April 4, 2014. Here is the press release for more information. The run pretty much sold out, which is pretty exciting.

For the first time ever, this week Mel will have two shows open simultaneously (Pride and Prejudice and Martyrs’ Crossing), as well as two in rehearsal (Persuasion and The Weaver of Raveloe).

Marvin Payne, playing the role of Mr Bennet in BYU’s production of Pride and Prejudice has written two charming anecdotes about a recent rehearsal, and then another.

The newest member of Plan-B Theatre’s Playwrights Lab, Mel is drafting a new original drama entitled Pilot Program. 

The SUU News ran an article following the Innovative Theatre Company’s recent production of Little Happy Secrets. 

Mel was recently interviewed by BYU dramaturg Anne Flinders for the Theatre & Media Arts department’s dramaturgy blog “4th Wall” regarding the adaptation process for Pride and Prejudice. 

Little Happy Secrets will be produced by Innovative View Theatre Company in Cedar City, Utah February 20-23, 2014.

Mel was interviewed by Ben Crowder, editor-in-chief of the online magazine Mormon Artist, in November 2013. Read the interview here.

“Blind Date,” a cutting taken from The Church of St. Pinky at Katy, Texas, was performed as part of an evening of one-acts at Freedom Preparatory Academy in Provo.

Martyrs’ Crossing received its international premiere Augusts 6-9, 2013 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, produced by UVU Theatre.

In May 2013 Mel was invited to discuss her work at the LDS literature and arts blog A Motley Vision.

Also in May 2013, Mel and Little Happy Secrets got a shout-out in the Huffington Post article “Gay Mormon Characters in the Arts Step out of the Shadows” (the article is great; skip the comments).

Martyrs’ Crossing is included in a new anthology of LDS drama, SAINTS ON STAGE, published by Zarahemla Books in May 2013.

Mel produced Little Happy Secrets, directed by Brighton Sloan, in the new Echo Theatre in Provo in February 2013.

Pride and Prejudice was workshopped in BYU’s Writer/Dramaturg/Actor workshop—a class Mel co-taught with BYU playwriting chair George D. Nelson. The workshop culminated in a staged reading December 5, 2012.

In partnership with Echo Studios, Mel produced Martyrs’ Crossing, directed by Brighton Sloan, in the new Echo Theatre in Provo in November and December 2012.

Mel’s short story “Little Karl,” was a finalist in the Everyday Mormon Writer’s Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest and was published online here. The story is based on the actual experiences of Mel’s pioneer ancestors. As is typical for EMW, there was a discussion of the story hosted by another blog; you can read those comments here.

Zion Theatre Company’s production of Persuasion was staged September 2012 at the Off Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City. The production was featured in an article on BroadwayWorld.com.

Mel presented the first draft of her new adaptation Pride and Prejudice as part of the Orem public library’s New Voices Play Reading series on August 8, 2012.

Mel was invited to have a short play produced alongside Horton Foote’s classic “Blind Date”, along with the work of two other Utah Valley playwrights, J. Scott Bronson and Eric Samuelsen. The evening of short pieces (all called “Blind Date”) ran in February 2012 in the Brinton Black Box at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo. The Daily Herald and The Universe both ran articles previewing the show.

Little Happy Secrets was selected to receive a staged reading as part of the Salt Lake Acting Company’s annual Fearless Fringe Festival in August 2011. Mel was invited, along with SLAC’s managing director Keven Myhre, to do a podcast interview discussing the show with Austen Diamond of City Weekly. Emily Bell and Emily Burnworth also performed a short scene; the interview and performance can be heard here.

Mel’s theatrical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion performed very successfully at Brigham Young University in March 2011, completely selling out its run. Preview articles appeared in The Deseret News, The Daily Herald, and BYU’s The Daily Universe. Mel and several members of the cast were interviewed for the TV program BYU Weekly. Along with director Barta Heiner, Mel was invited to discuss the production on Classical 89’s radio program Thinking Aloud, which you can hear below.

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Martyrs’ Crossing was produced by Rising Star Productions in Kelso, WA in March 2011.

Little Happy Secrets was produced by Southern Utah University in January 2011. The production was invited to bring a scene to the KC/ACTF Region VIII festival at Weber State University on February 7, 2012 and enjoyed a warm reception.

Award-winning playwright and Utah Valley theatre critic Eric Samuelsen wrote a highly complimentary piece on Mel and her plays, particularly Little Happy Secrets and the April 2010 production of A Flickering, for the June 2010 issue of Provo Orem Word. The article, “Contrite Courage,” is here (please navigate to page 78 of the PDF).

Little Happy Secrets is available in print as part of New Play Project’s anthology Out of the Mount: 19 from New Play Project. Published by Peculiar Pages, the book is available in both print and Kindle editions at amazon.com.

In June 2010 Mel had the opportunity to be a guest on the podcast Mormon Expression to discuss Little Happy Secrets. You can listen to it on the website, or you can download the free podcast from iTunes; the episode is #70.

Little Happy Secrets won the 2009 Association for Mormon Letters Drama award:

“In those dark and dangerous spaces where the political and personal collide, some works seem to flail around helplessly 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 end the friendship—she also can’t stop 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.”

 

  • I vote yes. Any of the above. If anyone can pull it off, you can.

  • Alison Anderson

    Technically isn’t everything we write basically a re-telling of another story even if it’s “original”? My vote is that you spin off a story, but have it be in a contemporary setting. That Perpetua story sounds pretty awesome though I don’t know how you’d make it contemporary.

    Anyway your idea reminds me of the book I just wrote an essay on for my class called The Hours by Michael Cunningham. He basically follows the plot of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf only he has 3 characters in 3 different time periods (one is Virginia herself) and he narrates their thoughts as they go through one day. It’s rather pretentious in its focus on gay/lesbian culture and celebrity references, which I think gave it prestige enough to get Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Juliane Moore to film a movie based off the book. So if you’re looking for this new play to “stick around”, going with a cool spin off something canonized has good potential. But I’m sure that, unlike Cunningham, you’ll be able to write your tragic Greek-styled play and not come off being pretentious.

    Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m sure whatever you decide will be awesome. And if you know a lot about the Greek/Roman myths, I say definitely go for it.

  • Thumbs Up.

  • DL

    See also The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood. A retelling of The Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective.

  • As a lover of Greek theater (although I haven’t written in that style necessarily, I have written on Greek subject matter), and a lover of historical plays, I heartily would love to see you tackle the subject matter, especially the stories you mentioned… they sound fascinating.