Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking after the Dead | BYU Studies

Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking after the Dead

Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking after the Dead
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Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking After the Dead
Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking After the Dead
Author Megan Sanborn Jones
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018

Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking after the Dead

Reviewer Melissa Leilani Larson

I believe strongly in the communal nature of the theater. Live performance allows for an exchange between performer and audience member that is immediate and electric on both sides of the conduit. Audience members, swept away by a powerful scene, shift in their seats and hold their breaths; on stage, the actors feel that pleasant anxiety and feed off of it, using it as fuel to go further and deeper with their characters. Theater can be an intense conversation between actor and audience, with the playscript providing a plan for that conversation. In her new book, Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking after the Dead, Brigham Young University theater professor Megan Sanborn Jones suggests that Latter-day Saint history pageants add another layer to that theatrical conversation. Latter-day Saint pageantry, Jones asserts, invokes an interaction between actor, spectator—and the dead.

Contemporary Mormon Pageantry is an invaluable addition to the study of Latter-day Saint arts. It is essential, engaging reading for Latter-day Saint theater artists; at the same time, it is easily accessible to scholars across other fields and faiths. In 2018, Church leaders announced the decision to reassess the production of pageants. If Church-produced 144 v BYU Studies Quarterly pageants do come to an end in the near future, Megan Sanborn Jones has effectively constructed a time capsule that preserves several key slices of the pageant experience.

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