Plan-B Theatre Company will debut playwright Matthew Greene’s Good Standing, a story of a gay Mormon man facing excommunication from the Mormon Church a week after meeting the man of his dreams.
The show is directed by the company’s artistic director, Jerry Rapier and runs Oct. 18–28 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center Studio Theatre. It presents a single actor, Austin Archer, playing multiple roles within the church disciplinary council.
“It’s too cold when I walk in. It always is, when men in suits are setting the temperature,” the character says in the opening scene.
Greene was raised LDS in California and was attending BYU when he wrote a play, Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea, that almost got him kicked out of the school. It explored what the gay marriage debate did to two friends, one openly gay and the other openly Mormon. It received its world premiere at Plan-B Theatre in 2013 and played to sold-out audiences.
Greene now lives in Brooklyn.
“Life didn’t magically become easier when I finally admitted that I, like Curtis in this play, dreamed of finding a husband, not a wife,” Greene wrote for QSaltLake in August. “What’s different, I guess, is an enhanced ability to feel joy and to claim it as my own. But the search continues for meaning and purpose and for the light I know is out there. Good Standing is another step in that ongoing journey, a love letter to uncertainty and complicated, problematic faith.”
“There’s no way to untangle the threads of identity that have made me who I am, and I have Mormonism practically woven into my DNA. I treasure the new life I’ve crafted for myself, but I mourn the loss of innocence I knew within comfy church walls and regret the pain I’ve caused to those who love me,” he wrote.
Archer said that coming up with 16 characters, most of whom were familiar, was a challenge, but that the script was a great guide.
“Matthew Greene wrote a hell of a personal, human, confronting, and beautiful play about a man forced to choose between who he is fundamentally and the faith of his childhood [and early adulthood]. It’s a crisis of faith and family in a single setting,” Archer said. “It’s brought up a lot of things for me and sparked many good discussions in the rehearsal room, meaning it’s probably the kind of script that will inspire similar discussions on the car ride home for you after you see it, meaning it’s probably a pretty damn effective bit of storytelling. You should come to see it for that, not for all my daring theatrics. Come for the beautiful story Matt wrote. And who knows, maybe you’ll see a horrific trapeze accident, too.”
Greene admits that Good Standing is semi-autobiographical. It’s also a play with which many Mormon and former Mormon LGBT people will relate. Q
“Good Standing”, Plan-B Theatre Company, Rose Wagner, Salt Lake City, Oct. 18–28, tickets, planbtheatre.org/goodstanding and 801-355-ARTS.