Melissa Leilani Larson
Hi, my name is Mel and I'm a writer. Feel free to browse the site to learn more about me and my work. Thanks for stopping by!
Shortly after the LDS Film Festival earlier this year, Mel did an interview with Jonathan Decker of the LDS news and culture website Third Hour about her work on Jane and Emma. That interview is now live; check it out!
Rehearsals have begun for Sweetheart Come at PYGmalion Theatre Company, and are going very well. The production runs weekends May 3 - 18, 2019, in the Jeanne Wagner Black Box at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City. Tickets are available now through artsaltlake.org.
Mel attended the annual Association for Mormon Letters Conference March 29-30 in Berkeley, CA, where she was honored wit the 2018 Smith-Pettit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters. Mattathias Westwood chaired a panel discussing Mel’s work. Director Chantelle Squires and dramaturgs Shelley T. Graham and Janine Sobeck Knighton presented on the panel. Mel was thrilled to attend, where she had the great opportunity to meet Carol Lynn Pearson, recipient of this year’s AML Lifetime Achievement Award. You can read Mel’s full award citation, but here is one particularly moving excerpt: “the true measure of Melissa Leilani Larson’s outstanding contributions to Mormon Letters are the ways in which her writing has given us the ability to better see and love each other, and in loving each other, perhaps to recognize the face of God.”
Jane and Emma is now available to own! If you live near a Deseret Book, you can pick up your copy of Jane and Emma in person. You can also order the Blu-ray or DVD from either DeseretBook.com or on Amazon. If you’re like me and like your movies in the cloud, you can rent or buy it on iTunes or Google Play. We don’t know about streaming yet, but we’ll post when we find out.
Jane and Emma won the jury-selected Best Feature Film Award as well as the Audience Award at the 2019 LDS Film Festival. Mel participated on a panel discussing the current state of LDS Cinema. When asked what she most wanted to see in future LDS films, Mel said that the Church is global, and therefore so is its art: “All of our art needs to be better at reflecting that… We have a very diverse audience. We should be telling more diverse stories.”
Mel will adapt Rabindranath Tagore’s classic play The Post Office as part of a UN conference coming to Salt Lake City in the summer 2019. The play will feature a cast of local high school students.
Mel’s book of two plays Third Wheel is presently on sale for $7.95. It’s available in both paperback and ebook, so grab a copy today! If you’re on the fence, Rebecca Child Bateman says in her GoodReads review, “Larson’s characters are beautifully human, relatable, complex, recognizable. Her writing is clean, natural, and intelligent. She has taken two groups of very real Mormon families and thrown them into (not so far-fetched) situations that create a wonderful TENSION…. Larson’s plays are a perfectly matched set. She has pulled open the curtains on the next door neighbor and the one up the street and let us peer inside. Or, perhaps it is our own blinds drawn, our own vulnerability revealed to the neighbors.”
Acting as Utah’s Proxy Regional Rep for the Dramatist Guild, Mel attended the DG’s annual meeting in February, rubbing elbows with fabulous playwrights like Lynn Nottage, Lisa Kron, and Doug Wright. She has written two articles for the Guild’s magazine, The Dramatist, this past year. The most recent details the beginnings of the Great Salt Lake Fringe and the other celebrates Mel’s colleague Rachel Bublitz and her Submission Mission.
Mel was interviewed about being a playwright and screenwriter for the website AspiringMormonWomen.org.
Mel wrote the screenplay for Jane and Emma, a new film about the friendship between Black LDS pioneer Jane Manning James and the first president of the Relief Society, Emma Hale Smith, coming to Blu-ray and DVD March 12. You can pre-order the Blu-ray here or on iTunes. Check out the trailer: