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For week ended January 30, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Mormon Woman's Play Looks At Growing Up in Southern Utah
Deseret News 30Jan00 A4
By Ivan M. Lincoln: Deseret News theater editor


PCHS librarian takes to the stage
Park City UT Record 2Feb00 A2
By Jane Southey: Record Staff

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Julie Jensen, author and playwright, will premiere her new play, "Two-Headed: A Play of History", on February 2 - March 12 at the Salt Lake Acting Company's Chapel Theatre. The two-person drama touches on 50 years of historical Utah incidents beginning in 1857. Ten-year-old Hettie and Lavinia offer a glimpse of the Mountain Meadows massacre and how their lives were affected by polygamy in the LDS church.

"The plot and ideas and characters haven't changed," Jensen said from her Las Vegas home, where she is a member of the faculty at the University of Nevada. "They (the plays) always have a sort of skeleton at those early points, then they have the real flesh and muscle and even some clothes by the time they open. Yeah, it's fuller now than it was then."

The SLAC production will be directed by Keven Myhre and will feature two well-known Wasatch Front actresses, Anita Booher as Lavinia and Valerie Kittel as Hettie. Booher is a librarian at Park City High School, proving she is hardly the type to keep her nose in a book. According to Booher, Jensen, a former Mormon, has family ties to some of the characters. Rather than tackling the issues head on, Jensen takes a look at an every day relationship of two women supporting each other on the periphery of these historic times.

Jensen has been particularly impressed with how the LDS Church today is dealing with the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Several months ago, she attended the dedication of the monument by President Gordon B. Hinckley. "The Mountain Meadow massacre was a big thing, but nobody talked about it. It was a big black hole," she noted. "I've been interested in how the church was dealing with it, and I'm proud to say they're looking at it squarely. They're not shouldering a lot of guilt, but that's not necessary. There were a lot reasons why it happened, and that's part of the play itself," she said.

"As women, we're almost never involved in the 'war' end of the thing. We weren't part of the massacre, but we lived with it," Jensen said. "President Hinckley seems to be thinking about how the culture presents itself now and in the future. That's an interesting change," Jensen said.

Two major focal points on the stage are a root cellar and a tree. Myhre notes that the cellar and the tree are stylistic metaphors for the secrets the two women are hiding and the problems hanging over their heads. "They're stuck in the middle between these two worlds," Myhre said. "While it's set against the backdrop of these events, the primary focus of the play is how the two women make peace with their lives. The cellar is representative of their personal lives - what they can't let out," he said.

One of Julie Jensen's most recent plays, "Cheat," will be read in SLAC's New Play Sounding Series on Monday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Chapel Theatre. Jensen is finishing some revisions on another play, "Give Us This Day," and has another project in the "idea" stage.


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