5 Mormon women (and one guy) weigh in on 3

The world premiere of Eric Samuelsen’s 3, the final installment in the #SeasonOfEric devoted to his work, run through Sunday, April 6.  Limited tickets available here.

This play is about all the Mormon women I know and love, beautifully written, brilliantly acted. It was a painful, insightful pleasure to watch.
– Lisa Butterworth

I loved the multilayered character development of every one of the main characters in each of the three plays of 3. Their friendships and marriage relationships were explored at increasingly deeper levels as each character faced a personal or relationship crisis. I have very little in common with the life circumstances of the protagonists, but had no trouble understanding and empathizing with their struggles. For me, the plays were extremely cathartic, and perfectly balanced the potentially painful exposure of deep flaws in LDS social/religious structures with acknowledgement of those structures’ positive aspects and the complexity of each woman’s ties to the faith & culture. It’s a must-see for anyone with an LDS background!
– Emily Peterson

I’ve felt marginalized, objectified, and unwanted in my 20 years as a member of the LDS Church, and the women in 3 gave voice to the things I’ve been struggling to explain since I decided to walk away. The play left me in tears, not only for the characters themselves, but for me. Stephanie, Teresa and Christy were pitch-perfect. Their performances were versatile and nuanced. I would see it again in a heartbeat.
– Grace Miller

I loved 3. The writing, acting, and production were incredible. It presented authentic LDS women’s stories, and the questions those stories raise, in a moving and funny way.
– Jesse Quebbeman-Turley

Teresa Sanderson, Christy Summerhays and Stephanie Howell in 3

Teresa Sanderson, Christy Summerhays and Stephanie Howell in 3

When I went to see 3 I was very skeptical.  In my opinion many plays written about LDS culture are too black and white, either in glorifying or demonizing LDS people. It was so refreshing to see a play that explored the gray areas. The beautiful performances by Stephanie Howell, Teresa Sanderson and Christy Summerhays captured the strong and women of the Church, full of compassion and love but also flawed and conflicted like any other person and were not overly criticized for those flaws in the writing.

I truly enjoyed the accurate portrayal of the “fast-talking, multi-tasking, gets-the-job-done kind of women” in Eric Samuelsen’s writing. I immediately thought of some of my favorite women from my ward while watching these three short plays. I was grinning from ear to ear within the the first ten minutes thanks to the “montage of conversations during play dates,” having had the same kind of conversation with my sister and mother not three hours prior.

Due to the minimalist style of the play, each piece relied heavily on the blocking (Cheryl Ann Cluff) and lighting (Jesse Portillo) to guide the audience through the passing of time and space. I felt like they executed this brilliantly. As an audience member I never felt lost.

Samuelsen did write about some very controversial topics in modern LDS culture, such as the families struggling with homosexuality and objectifying women. However he took a very open approach to said topics by stripping away bias and showing both sides of these difficult situations.

Through the course of the show I found myself laughing, crying and feeling very nostalgic. Whether you are LDS or not please come and see this show to get an entertaining and glimpse at our culture and thought process. This is a show I would proudly share with my mom and you should share with yours.
– Emilie Starr

As I was watching the three plays of 3, I caught myself thinking, “What does self-worth mean?” Especially as a person who grew up in Utah’s LDS culture? As I kept watching the play, my mind began to layer the question even more. “What does self-worth mean as a woman in the LDS church? What are the roles of an LDS woman?”

Teresa Sanderson in 3

Teresa Sanderson in 3

“Bar and Kell” struck the biggest chord with me. I felt like I have been all of those characters in one way or another.  I could see myself in each portrayal, like a mirror reflecting back my image. Like Kell, I have been a part of a Relief Society group who assisted non-active members with something they needed help with. I would often ask myself how can I be an example of the Church to inspire non-active women, just like Bar does? However, I related to Brandie in a different way. Much like Brandie, I became the focus of some LDS friends of mine, how they could bring me into the church as a non-member.

My story is a little different from Brandie’s, but the approach was the same. “How can I assist this person, and be an example to them, to bring them into the Church?” Eventually, I ended up converting to the faith, and grew very active in it while I attended college. I remember being called into the Relief Society presidency and having meetings about the non-active women in our ward, or the women who are not a part of the church. We would ask each other how we could assist in bringing them into the faith. “How can I be a better sister?” My worth in the Church as a woman, that I placed on myself, was measured by how I could be a better sister to those who were not a part of it. My role was now defined.  If I complete my visiting teaching each month, complete my calling as Vice President of the Relief Society, and extend an invitation to “those” women to come with me to church, that would make me a better sister, right? By completing that, my self-worth was no longer in question, right? “Lead by example.” The vignette was all too familiar. When Brandie asks Kell, “Why do you want to be my friend?” and Bar could not give her a truthful answer, it brought me back to when I was a non-LDS member. When I was once seen as a possible opportunity for another girl to be a “better sister,” when, in actuality, what I really needed was a friend.

“As sisters in Zion, we’ll all work together;
The blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek.
We’ll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor;
We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.”

3 gave me the opportunity to reflect on those moments when I was trying to be a “better sister” to those non-active or non-LDS women, as others had done for me. I wonder if I had been asked, “Why do you want to be my friend?” what I would have said. And what would the “better sisters” have said to me?
– Latoya Rhodes

 

The world premiere of Eric Samuelsen’s 3, the final installment in the #SeasonOfEric devoted to his work, run through Sunday, April 6.  Limited tickets available here.

Eric Samuelsen bids farewell to the #SeasonOfEric
Stephanie Howell's blogospheric pep talk inspired by 3

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