Night at the Theater

By June 1, 2009

A couple of nights ago I stumbled across the anecdote for all of you out there disillusioned with the attempts of LDS art to meaningfully engage with Mormon history: I saw Mahonri Stewart’s The Fading Flower, presented by New Play Project at Provo Theatre Company. I took along a date, so I was legitimately worried that the whole thing might flop. But I was pleasantly surprised: the play deals with the atmosphere surrounding Joseph III’s coming of age, his assumption of the leadership of the RLDS faith, and the heightening conflict between Nauvoo and Salt Lake – with the Smith family caught in between. It gives special attention to Emma Smith and her youngest son, David Hyrum, in a way serving as a stage adaptation of Valeen Tippetts Avery’s From Mission to Madness: Last Son of The Mormon Prophet.

Although aesthetics and empathy, not faithfulness to history, are the driving forces behind this production, it is compelling, even to the historical mind. And it’s especially significant for its intended lay LDS audience.

In any case, if you’re in Provo in the next week, it’s worthwhile. More information available at

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks for the notice, Ryan; I can’t wait to see it.

    Comment by Ben — June 1, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  2. Very cool. Thanks for the heads up, Ryan.

    Comment by Christopher — June 1, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

  3. Thanks for the notice. My grandfather was baptized RLDS by David Hyrum Smith in Salt Lake, so the story has personal interest for me.

    Comment by DavidC — June 1, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

  4. Thanks, Ryan. I wish I could be in Provo more often these days.

    Comment by Jared T — June 2, 2009 @ 1:19 am

  5. Actually, I feel it’s driven first by historical accuracy, and second by the drama and theatrics of it. I was amazed to see that a good percentage of the entire show was taken right from the actual words used in letters and transcripts of the time.
    Mahonri is more married to the actual historical events that any other dramatic artist I’ve seen, and I appreciate that on such sensitive issues.

    So expect to be educated. And empathize.

    Comment by Dave — June 2, 2009 @ 5:59 pm


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