What if you were called to serve in the restoration of polygamy? You could blog about it. An intimate look at first love, second wives, and last chances, Pilot Program is the story of Abigail Husten, a writer and professor whose life is turned upside down when she and her husband Jacob are called to participate in a pilot program restoring polygamy to current LDS practice.
Pilot Program received its world premiere April 9-19, 2015 at Plan-B Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. The production featured actors April Fossen, Mark Fossen, and Susanna Florence. Directed by Jerry Rapier, set design by Randy Rasmussen, lighting by Jesse Portillo, sound design by Cheryl Ann Cluff, costumes by Philip R. Lowe, props by Allison Smith, and stage management by Jennifer Freed.
Winner of the 2015 Association for Mormon Letters Drama award and shortlisted for 2015 Best Original Play by Salt Lake City Weekly.
Published in Mel’s debut book of plays, Third Wheel: Peculiar Stories of Mormon Women in Love.
“Like Larson’s best work, it’s a play about people, about human beings and their lives and choices and deeply rooted private pain. It’s a play that defies easy answers. It’s also, I think, the most stunningly powerful anti-polygamy play I’ve certainly ever seen.” – Eric Samulesen, award-winning playwright of Gadianton, Borderlands, and The Seating of Senator Smoot
“[A] truly groundbreaking treatment of an LDS experiment of polygamy that communicates silence and awkwardness bravely in a most subtly subversive way…. Larson shows impressive intellectual depth in her work, as Pilot Program’s humor, loneliness and quiet, yet hugely important, questions of faith render the space and place of Utah’s quasi-theocratic legacy in a most formidable way.” – Les Roka, The Utah Review
“We could get into a whole debate about polygamy— We get into those debates all the time. This play, though, was not a debate. It didn’t get into the big picture right-or-wrong, true-or-false of plural marriage. This was about one couple, one family, three people, navigating this matter for themselves…. I am so impressed with Larson’s ability to communicate so many messages that all felt authentic and believable.” – Sarah Katherine Staheli Hanks, Feminist Mormon Housewives
“Melissa Leilani Larson’s Pilot Program manages the tricky balance of being an ‘issue’ play—dealing with polygamous marriage—while still being a poignant, accessible work unburdened with the specific issue itself…. [W]here Larson’s approach succeeds is in not putting the premise through the wringer of melodrama. Pilot Program’s greatest strength is its willingness to be quiet, to forgo simplistic binary morality, and to abstain from meretricious attempts at wrapping the story up in a neat bow.” – Danny Bowes, Salt Lake City Weekly
“[Pilot Program] is a considered, thoughtful look at what polygamy might do to a mostly fulfilled contemporary marriage between equal partners…. This is a play that will leave you talking and pondering long after you leave the theater.” – Ann Poore, Artists of Utah’s 15 Bytes
“Pilot Program… is lyrically lovely and achingly uncomfortable, a meditation on polygamy, a fascinating what-if fantasy, and a deeply moving chronicle of three people in point of crisis…. It’s excruciating to watch. It’s also marvelously compassionate. And quite completely horrifying.” – Association for Mormon Letters 2015 Drama Award citation