Mark Fossen on juggling two wives in PILOT PROGRAM

Mark Fossen has previously appeared in Plan-B’s THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, EXPOSED, AMERIGO, THE SCARLET LETTER, CLEARING BOMBS and the Script-In-Hand Series readings of THE NORMAL HEART, 8 and MARRY CHRISTMAS. I’ve had the chance to play some wonderfully challenging roles in my time with Plan-B: a prizewinning economist, a machiavellian schemer, a genocidist, and more. Who would think that one of the most challenging characters to inhabit would be a man who lives a few miles from where I do now, is my age, and is married to a woman who looks suspiciously like my real-life wife? PILOT PROGRAM is about a lot of things: polygamy, loneliness, family. However, the biggest step for me was the question it asks about what you would do for your faith. I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and never have been. I grew up in areas of the country where the Church is not prominent, and the first members of the Church I think I knew were when I met my wife’s family. Since moving to Utah, I understand the basics, and am familiar with a lot of the terminology, theology, and culture. But, of course, understanding is very different than a lived experience. My biggest hurdle was in the very basic premise-before-the-premise of PILOT PROGRAM: “What if you were called to serve in the restoration of polygamy?” While “polygamy” is the eye-catcher in that sentence, it was the “called” that was my biggest challenge, the thing I could not understand. While I can imagine the personal religious revelation that could inspire polygamy, I cannot imagine...

April Fossen on polygamy, monogamy and PILOT PROGRAM

April Fossen has previously appeared in Plan-B’s MIASMA, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, MESA VERDE, LADY MACBETH, SUFFRAGE and NOTHING PERSONAL; many a SLAM; and the Script-In-Hand Series readings of 8, MARRY CHRISTMAS. I admire polygamists. Not the Warren Jeffs variety, but the modern, Big Love-type folks. Consenting adults who are doing what we all do—working jobs, raising kids, doing their best to be good people—just with more than one wife. Okay, yes, I struggle with the patriarchal aspects of polygamy. But…those women. Here’s the thing: marriage is complicated. I never call it “hard” because I don’t think it is, just complicated. Juggling the disparate needs and wants of two people, or two people plus kids—that’s complicated. Adding god into the mix? What he/she/it wants/expects of you? That’s a whole new level of complication. And on top of that, add more wives? It’s mind-boggling. But that’s not even the reason I admire them—I guess with a good calendaring system a lot of things are more possible. What I admire is the self-sacrifice. The generosity of spirit. I guess this is where I’d have to admit that I also admire people who can maintain open marriages or polyamorous marriages. I DO NOT know how they do it. Be willing to share your partner? Do it with love and understanding? Put the needs of your partner so far above your own? I honestly can’t wrap my brain around it. And I’ve tried. I’ve been thinking and talking about these aspects of marriage pretty much nonstop (apologies, friends and loved ones) for the past year, since I first read a draft of PILOT...

Playwright Melissa Leilani Larson brings the awkward to PILOT PROGRAM

Melissa Leilani Larson makes her Plan-B debut with PILOT PROGRAM. An award-winning writer from Provo, Utah, her plays MARTYRS’ CROSSING (IRAM Best New Play) debuted at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (Association for Mormon Letters Drama award) enjoyed a sold-out run at Brigham Young University last March. Her screenplay FREETOWN, presently filming in Ghana, will be in cinemas in April 2015. Other plays include LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS (Association for Mormon Letters Drama award), A FLICKERING (Trustus Playwrights Festival finalist), STANDING STILL STANDING (Mayhew award), and LADY IN WAITING (Lewis National Playwriting Contest for Women winner). Dramatists Guild ambassador for Utah, BA in English from BYU, MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. I’m rather good at being awkward. The other night I went to a screening of a film I worked on. It’s probably been one of the biggest things I’ve done so far, just by sheer audience size: 750 people saw that one screening. That’s more than whole runs of shows of plays I’ve produced. A little depressing if you think about it, actually—but amazing at the same time. After the film, the filmmakers moved to the lobby where a vinyl backdrop emblazoned with the film’s title had been set up. The producer, director, distributor, composer, and myself posed for photos in front of the title backdrop. Because everyone wants to get a photo taken with a first time screenwriter, right? At one point I stepped up to take a photo with the director—just him and me. We’re friends, so I didn’t have any qualms about giving him a hug or putting an arm around him...

Actor Susanna Florence Risser on PILOT PROGRAM

Susanna Florence Risser makes her Plan-B debut with PILOT PROGRAM. She was most recently seen in ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS at Pioneer. I met Melissa Leilani Larson in 2000 at BYU. I was enrolled in a class called WDA (writers, directors, actors) and Melissa was one of three playwrights (or screenwriters) selected to workshop a piece that they had in process. Every week each writer would bring in revisions in response to the feedback she or he had received the previous week from the professors and other participants in the workshop. I liked her play immediately. The first things that struck me about Mel was that her writing was consistently natural and easy, though her subject matter varied widely. The second thing that struck me was how prolific she was. While other writers would come in with small, sometimes inconsequential changes of grammar or syntax, unwilling to make major changes or let go of clever bits that didn’t really serve the story, Mel would come in with pages and pages. She was quick to evaluate critique and then was able to revise and revamp, accepting feedback but also maintaining the integrity of her own idea and voice. We developed a natural friendship and I immediately looked forward to being in a full production of one of her plays.  I have been to productions of many of her plays as well as many readings in New York, Provo and Salt Lake (one inspired by a request I made that she write a play about Joan of Arc). However, because of consistent life events, moves, grad school (for both of us)...

Playwright Melissa Leilani Larson on PILOT PROGRAM (2014/15 Season, Show #5)

Melissa Leilani Larson makes her Plan-B debut with PILOT PROGRAM.  An award-winning writer from Provo, Utah, her plays MARTYRS’ CROSSING (IRAM Best New Play) debuted at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE enjoyed a sold-out run at Brigham Young University last March. Her screenplay FREETOWN, presently filming in Ghana, will be in cinemas in April 2015.  Other plays include LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS (Association for Mormon Letters Drama award), A FLICKERING (Trustus Playwrights Festival finalist), STANDING STILL STANDING (Mayhew award), and LADY IN WAITING (Lewis National Playwriting Contest for Women winner). Dramatists Guild ambassador for Utah, BA in English from BYU, MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. What would it take for me to leave my Mormon faith behind? Polygamy. Other faithful Mormons have told me on multiple occasions that I will find love in the hereafter, as some lucky guy will be blessed to have me as a plural wife.  Lucky?  Really?  I’ve always been grateful to know polygamy is a thing of the past. But is it?  Plural marriage was decriminalized in Utah in 2013.  Recent decisions on both state and federal levels have called the definition of marriage into question, and I began to wonder: could polygamy really be legal?  Could it make a comeback in LDS practice?  And the possibility, as insignificant as it may be, terrified me. As a lifelong Mormon, marriage is something that I’ve heard about for as long as I can remember. As a child and a teenager and even in religion classes in college, I was taught that marriage was the key to the kingdom.  I’ve been told all my life that I would marry a good man...

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