Susan Elizabeth Howe: AML Lifetime Achievement Award

The Association for Mormon Letters presented Susan Elizabeth Howe with the AML Lifetime Achievement Award at the AML Conference on April 22, held at Utah Valley University. Susan attended both the award ceremony and a panel discussion about his career after the award ceremony.

Citation

It is hard to imagine anyone more deserving of AML’s Lifetime Achievement Award than Susan Elizabeth Howe.  After teaching for nearly 30 years, Susan recently retired from BYU.  Thus 2017 affords an excellent occasion for looking back and celebrating her many contributions: as an editor and literary citizen, as a university professor, and as an award-winning writer. Continue Reading →

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Orson Scott Card and Susan Elizabeth Howe

The Association for Mormon Letters will present two lifetime achievement awards at the AML Conference on April 22, held at Utah Valley University (CB101A) at 12:45-1:30pm. Orson Scott Card will be presented with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and Susan Elizabeth Howe will be presented with the Association for Mormon Letters Lifetime Achievement Award. Both authors will be attending the conference in person. Panel discussion about both authors’ careers will also be held in the afternoon after the award ceremony.

Award citations will be read at the conference and published soon thereafter. For now, here are previously written biographies of the two authors. Card’s is adapted from his own Hatrack River website. Howe’s is adapted from a biography published on the Poetry Foundation website.

Orson Scott Card

Best known for his science fiction novels Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card has written in many other forms and genres. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s (including many Mormon and scriptural themed plays), Card’s first published fiction appeared in 1977 — the short story “Gert Fram” in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelet version of “Ender’s Game” in the August issue of Analog. Continue Reading →

Justifying the Cut: The Plays of Saints on Stage

SaintsOnStage-Cover.inddWith the publication of Saints on Stage: An Anthology of Mormon Drama, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mormon drama and how it currently stands as it own niche genre. The whole reason I pitched the idea of the anthology to Chris Bigelow at Zarahemla Books was because of the.impact that Mormon drama and its playwrights had made upon me when I was younger. I wanted to honor that powerful influence of a genre I loved and the Mormon playwrights who I owe so much to.

In high school, I attended a number of Mormon themed plays at BYU which inspired me…Eric Samuelsen’s The Seating of Senator Smoot and Gadianton; Elizabeth Hansen’s A String of Pearls; James Arrington’s Farley Family Christmas. My own youthful writing before that had largely been non-religious or, if religious, of a general Christian variety (my interest in C.S. Lewis in high school jump started this kind of writing). But it was Mormon drama that really made me investigate my own specific faith, artistically. Seeing my faith on stage, in the spotlight, drew me even deeper into a desire to more deeply investigate my closely held spiritual beliefs.  

So this month I want to go into why the plays I chose made it into the anthology—what I think they contribute to Mormon drama and what impact they had on me personally: Continue Reading →

Needful Opposition: Addressing Conflict and Controversy in Mormon History Plays

Stephanie Foster Breinholt and Marvin Payne in BYU’s 2001 production of  Tim Slover’s_Hancock County_.

How to present Mormon History has often been a sensitive thing within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Especially with the understandable impulse to protect the faith and culture of an entire people, it can be tempting to soft pedal it, to not get into the nitty gritty of historical details, or to side step explosive issues when presenting history in a dramatic work. Although there are plenty of white washed Mormon history plays out there, there has also been a tradition of strong, engaging  playwrights involved in Mormon Drama who haven’t been afraid to tackle head on the inherent conflicts, human flaws and controversies that are unavoidable when writing plays based on history.

Mormon History, whether dramatized or not, has been a hot button issue within the Church in the past. Even when written by active, faithful Latter-day Saints who are writing from a place of faith, there have been times in recent Mormon record when there was discouragement from people high in the Church about writing honest history that addressed controversy or contradiction in the history of the Church. There have even been instances where historians have faced Church discipline because of their writing. Fortunately, that day seems to have changed and attitudes within Church leadership have become increasingly progressive regarding its history. Continue Reading →