2017 AML Awards Finalists #5: Drama and Film

We are pleased to announce the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters Awards finalists in Drama and Film. The final awards will be announced and presented at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, held at Brigham Young University on March 23. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors, academics, and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the works and author biographies, adapted from the author and organisation websites (if anyone wants to fix part, please write it in the reply, and I will fix it). Announcements for Anthology, Criticism, and Poetry are still to come.



The judges for the Drama award considered only the written scripts, not the production.

Tim Slover. Virtue. Plan-B Theatre Company, Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Salt Lake City, February 16-26.

Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century Abbess who wrote the Western World’s first opera and had the ear of the Pope, dared to ask: Is it possible to bridge the gap between spirituality and sexuality? Slover explores the conflict between religious traditions and personal revelation. This is the play’s first fully staged production.

Tim Slover is a member of the University of Utah Theatre Studies Program faculty, teaching courses in playwriting and dramatic literature. He also directs the Theatre, Fine Arts, and Humanities in London Learning Abroad Program. He earned his B.A. in English at BYU and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. He is an accomplished playwright and screenwriter whose works have been produced off-Broadway and in professional regional and university theatres all over the US, Canada, and UK. Four of his plays have received AML Drama Awards: March Tale (1995), Joyful Noise (1996), Hancock County (2002), and Treasure (2006).


Mahonri Stewart. The Drown’ed Book, or the History of William Shakespeare, Part LastZion Theatre CompanyCastle Amphitheatre, Provo, August 25-September 2.

William Shakespeare is nearing the end of his life and wishes to make peace with his daughter Judith. Yet when Judith’s suitor Thomas Quiney sows seeds of conflict between father and daughter, Shakespeare finds his life falling apart when he most wants to put it together.

Mahonri Stewart is a former Playwright in Residence at the Noorda Regional Theatre for Children and Youth, and currently teaches teach English, Theater, and Creative Writing at Venture Academy, near Ogden. He graduated with his MFA from Arizona State University in Dramatic Writing in 2014. He has had over 20 of his plays produced by Utah Valley University, Arizona State University, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, The FEATS Fringe Festival (Switzerland), The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland), Zion Theatre Company, and the BYU Experimental Theatre Company. Mahonri has won the Kennedy Center American College Festival’s National Playwriting Award (second place) and their National Selection Team Fellowship Award. He has also received the AML Drama Award for 2012 for Roof Overhead. Several of his works have been published through Zarahemla Books. Mahonri is also the executive producer at Zion Theatre Company。

Morag Shepherd. Not One Drop. Plan-B Theatre Company, Rose Wager Center, Salt Lake City, March 23-April 2. 

Intimacy, identity, power, life, death.
A fall, a push, a murder.
A sideways glance at the roles we play
to convince ourselves we are(n’t)
who we think we are.
If Caryl Churchill and Sarah Kane were to have a literary baby,
This play would be that baby.
A weird, wacky baby.

Morag Shepherd, originally from Scotland, is the winner of the Plan-B Theatre grant from The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists for Not One Drop. She is also the resident playwright at Sackerson in Salt Lake City, where her plays The Worst Thing I’ve Ever DoneBefore the Beep, Burn (the 2016 AML Drama Award winner), Poppy’s in the Sand, and How Long Can You Stand on the Train Tracks: A Game for Two Sisters have premiered.


The judges considered works from a wide variety of genres and sources, including feature films, documentaries, shorts, and television shows.

The Man in the Camo Jacket. Written and directed by Russ Kendall.

Documentary. As front man for The Alarm, Mike Peters has written some of the most rousing anthems of our day — “68 Guns,” “The Stand,” and “Strength.” But when diagnosed with cancer, his songs and life took on new meaning, igniting his indomitable spirit. Featuring one of kind performances from legendary rock musicians, Man In The Camo Jacket unfolds Mike’s evolution from teenaged punk rocker in a seaside town in North Wales, to the top of the charts, to the top of the world, to the harrowing depths of cancer treatments and his inspiring fight back.

Russ Kendall is an Emmy Award winning creative producer and member of the Producers Guild of America. Russ has traveled the world, filming in more than 35 countries and on 6 continents, to capture the human experience.  His work includes television series, documentary and narrative films; including the award-winning holiday film, Winter Thaw, which the New York Times dubbed “best serious Christmas film of the year.” Man in the Camo Jacket is Russ’ feature length documentary directing debut.

Out of the Ground. Written and directed by Barret Burgin. 

Short film (20 minutes). In a time of global turmoil, scientists Clay and Terra have left society to build a machine that will regenerate all human life. However, when this machine begins to make their daughter sick, Clay is forced to choose between his family and the fate of the world. There will be screenings at the LDS Film Festival on March 1 & 3.

Barrett Burgin is a filmmaker studying at Brigham Young University. His film The Next Door was a finalist for the 2016 AML Film Award. Burgin cites Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock, and Rod Serling as influences on his work.


A Pug & Wolf Christmas. Created by Davey and Bianca Morrison Dillard.

TV Pilot. One sad day in the life of a pug and a wolf.

Davey Morrison Dillard is an actor, writer, director, visual artist, and maker of things based out of Austin, TX. Credits include The Nose (Center for Puppetry Arts, writer-director-actor), Eugenie (BYUtv, writer-actor), Ben & The Art of Regret (Academy Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist, writer), and WWJD (producer-director). Davey is the Director of Education for The Grassroots Shakespeare Company.​ Bianca Morrison Dillard is a dramaturg, actor, producer, and director in film and theater. She and her husband, Davey, are the producer/director team behind the Adam and Eve web series, which was a finalist for a 2016 AML Award. She produced BYUtv’s Fresh Take, and Far Between, an effort to feature personal stories about what it means to be Mormon and same-sex attracted or LGBT. She serves on the board of directors of The Grassroots Shakespeare Company and was artistic director of the New Play Project.


SocorroWritten and directed by Marshal Davis.

Short film (30 minutes). Marcelo is a widower and a father doing whatever he can to heal his ailing daughter Luz. After she is taken off the heart transplant list, he turns to prayer at an alter to La Virgen de Guadalupe. When Guadalupe miraculously materializes, Marcelo sets out with her to heal Luz. There will be a screening at the LDS Film Festival on March 1.

Marshal Davis is a writer, director and colorist with over 7 years of experience spanning web, broadcast and film. He was born in Los Angeles, but was raised in New Zealand, The Cook Islands, and Israel. As a young adult he lived in Mexico, where he fell in love the art and culture of Mexico. He has worked primarily in post-production as a colorist or editor, but with Socorro has begun writing and directing.


We Love You, Sally Carmichael! Directed by Christopher Gorham, written by Daryn Tufts.

Feature film. Readers across the world are in love with author Sally Carmichael’s series of romance novels that chronicle the epic love story between a human girl and a merman. No one knows that Sally Carmichael is really Simon Hayes, a bitter, serious novelist—and Simon would like to keep it that way. But when Simon is forced to meet a top box office star about the movie adaptation of a Sally Carmichael book, the author’s carefully built life of anonymity starts crumbling down around him.

Christopher Gorham an American actor who is perhaps most recognizable as the blind CIA officer, Auggie Anderson, in USA Network’s Covert Affairs, where he also directed three episodes. He also acted in The Other Side of Heaven, Ugly BettyPopularFelicity, Jake 2.0, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and 2 Broke Girls. This is his feature film directing debut. 

Daryn Tufts is a writer, director, producer, and actor. While attending BYU, he joined the The Garrens Comedy Troupe. He later founded the Utah chapter of ComedySportz. He appeared in many of the Halestorm Mormon comedy movies. He wrote and produced the movies American Mormon and Stalking Santa, and wrote and directed My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend and Inside.



2 Thoughts on “2017 AML Awards Finalists #5: Drama and Film

  1. One correction:
    I no longer teacher at APA. Can your correct it that I teach English, Theater, and Creative Writing at Venture Academy, near Ogden.

  2. Mooie foto van jou en Bernadet! 🙂 Veel beterschap voor Davey! X

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation