Is There Sisterhood in Mormonism? Plan B Theatre’s “3”

Photo Credit: Rick Pollock

Photo Credit: Rick Pollock

I was fortunate enough to attend Eric Samuelsen’s 3 on Saturday night, and I can’t give my recommendation enough. The show is running through April 6th, and it is imperative that you attend. Grab your favorite feminist, preferably your favorite Mormon feminist, and run down to the Rose Wagner Theater to experience three short plays about Mormon women confronting their culture.

Before I get to the stories, I have to gush that, as usual, Plan B knocked their set design, lighting, and sound out of the park. The set was one of the most elaborate I’ve seen from this company, and it was so many things: hilarious, culturally significant, and I don’t know, just perfect. The lighting and sound were astonishing, and don’t even get me started on the costumes! Pillip R. Lowe nailed the costumes. Nailed. Them.

Then there are the stories. Three tories born from the brilliant mind of Eric Samuelsen, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (only a member of the church could write with such poignant acumen). You’re in for a real treat with: Bar & Kell, Community Standard, and Duets. Each play features the same three actresses, Stephanie Howell, Teresa Sanderson (you may remember her from her stunning performance in Eric(a)), and Christy Summerhays, but you don’t even realize it by the time the next play starts, because each woman perfectly embodies her new character.

In Bar & Kell, the title women take on a “pet project” in their neighbor Brandy. Brandy is a mother to three, with a live-in, abusive boyfriend. She doesn’t have a GED and she isn’t actively attending church anymore. The woman try to groom her, scrub her, and prep her for a proper life in their LDS community. This short really calls into question the bonds women form–are we trying to help our sisters, or are we trying to help ourselves? Prepare to laugh your ass butt off with this one. 

Community Standard follows the jury deliberation of a high-profile obscenity trial. It’s in this play that Stephanie Howell’s character Janeal really makes us questions our assumptions and she highlights a great paradox in LDS culture. Janeal, a devout Mormon wife, is forced to watch pornographic films to determine whether or not a local movie store was renting films congruent with the “community standard.” While watching these films she’s struck by something too familiar: the performance of women who endure in spite of discomfort, and the objectifying gaze of the men involved. Just because it isn’t porn, is that the community standard? This one is a real conversation starter. Get ready to get in deep with your favorite Mo Fem after the show.

By far the most emotional play for me was Duets, a haunting story about Sondra (brilliantly played by Christy Summerhays) and her husband, who is having an affair with a man. The play documents the trauma of trying to change sexual orientation too well, and its culmination is devastating. Duets was so powerful that I forgot for a moment how much I had laughed during the previous two plays. My personal emotional experience was augmented when I looked over to see tears streaming down the face of a silver-haired gentleman to my right. Keep some tissues on hand for this one, because it might hit too close to home.

I could go on and on about the delights of Samuelsen’s 3, so I’ll force myself to stop, but not before I urge you one more time to buy tickets and go see this play. It’s an important piece of work for our community, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and share your reviews. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Comments

  1. I wish I lived closer– I’d definitely be there. Thanks for this write-up!

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