The Season of Eric at Plan-B Theatre: A Milestone in Mormon Drama | BYU Studies

The Season of Eric at Plan-B Theatre: A Milestone in Mormon Drama

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The Season of Eric at Plan-B Theatre: A Milestone in Mormon Drama

Author Callie Oppedisano,

It is rare, even for the most successful contemporary playwrights, to have a full season devoted to their work at a major theatre company. That is one reason why a full season of five Eric Samuelsen plays at Salt Lake City's Plan-B Theatre is noteworthy. Another reason the so-called "Season of Eric" is noteworthy is because it marks an important milestone in contemporary Mormon theatre. Never before has a Mormon playwright so successfully partnered with a professional theatre company to produce so many new works. These works are influencing the Mormon theatre canon and assisting in the evolution of the Mormon theatre aesthetic. Samuelsen is demonstrating that Mormon theatre is becoming more dramaturgically diverse. His work is influenced by other countries, languages, and genres; it takes a hard look at politics and economics and the culture from which they come. His art form is capable of playing to a seasoned critical audience, one that leans toward the belief that theatre can and does lead to social change.

At first glance, Samuelsen and Plan-B Theatre's decade-old partnership is rather unexpected. Samuelsen is a retired Brigham Young University professor who proclaims a devout belief in and loyalty to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Plan-B Theatre is a secular theatre company in Salt Lake City devoted primarily to nurturing new work by Utah dramatists. Together they join forces in their common desire to expose what they see as social and political ills. "The Season of Eric" demonstrates the width and breadth of what this kind of artistic collaboration can bring to a Utah audience: theatre that is relevant, thought provoking, entertaining, and, at times, igniting.