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 taking it on because the stake president asked me to. I think I’d need to go up the chain of command a ways … like all the way up … like to the Big Guy himself.
The truth is, I still don’t understand it or even have an understanding of it. But the great thing about acting is I don’t really need to understand it—I just need to do it. Mark doesn’t need to understand it. Jacob understands it, and that’s enough.
Melissa Leilani Larson’s written a very simple man whose dedication to his wife and his church are at the core of his being. I think I initially wanted to dismiss him as a “yes man,” but he’s so much more. He’s a man who has found life’s meaning in service. He’s a man who will do what is asked because he finds his joy in bringing joy to others. He’s a man I’ve come to admire.
There was a great tweet from opening night that said “I’m so on #TeamJacob” … I completely agree.
Melissa Leilani Larson’s PILOT PROGRAM receives its world premiere at Plan-B April 9-19, featuring April Fossen, Mark Fossen and Susanna Florence Risser, directed by Jerry Rapier. Click here for more information and tickets.