Pilot Program: The Restoration of Polygamy, Fertility Pressure, and Faith

PilotProgram

Photo credit: Rick Pollock

 

What would you give up to be considered a “good” feminist? Think long and hard. Now imagine you are asked to interrupt your current monogamous relationship and bring in a third-party. Could you do it? That’s the question asked of Abigail (played by April Fossen) and Jacob (played by April’s husband, Mark Fossen), but their question is: What would you do for your church? Melissa Leilani Larson’s Pilot Program opens with an achingly silent scene between LDS Church members Abigail and Jacob. They have just been asked to take part in the Church’s “pilot program” to restore polygamy.

The expected plot trajectory is for Jacob to push his wife into the arrangement, but Larson defies expectation with Abigail. Abigail, a smart and cynical college professor (perhaps a Mormon feminist?) is the one who feels a “blossom of warmth” in her chest, and immediately calls a former BYU student, Heather to begin the couple’s proposition. If Jacob is going to have another wife, Abigail wants to choose.

Without giving too much away, let me just say that you’re in for a gut-wrenching journey of exploration. How much could you endure for your faith, and is the decision truly about God, or it some other social pressure? Pilot Program explores infertility with Abigail and Jacob. Mainstream heterosexual culture constantly pressures women to become mothers, but throw in a dash of Mormonism, and the pressure to conceive triples. After three miscarriages, failed in vitro fertilization, and stalled adoption plans, it seems that Abigail invites Heather into her otherwise blissful marriage to punish herself for infertility.

April and Mark Fossen are married offstage, and not surprisingly, play their married characters perfectly. Heather (played by Sussanna Florence Risser) does a remarkable job–you manage to like a character who anyone in the audience could reasonably hate (I know she was invited, but I wanted to call her a home-wrecker?). Plan B’s Jerry Rapier always stuns as the director, and Pilot Program is no different.

Pilot Program runs from April 9-19th at the Rose Wagner Theatre, and tickets are quickly selling out. Make sure to get yours before they’re gone, and gather up your favorite Mormon faithful, feminists, and other friends to go see this funny and thought-provoking play.