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Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking After the DeadMegan Sanborn Jones 2018
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In Contemporary Mormon Pageantry, theater scholar Megan Sanborn Jones looks at Mormon pageants, outdoor theatrical productions that celebrate church theology, reenact church history, and bring to life stories from the Book of Mormon. She examines four annual pageants in the United States-the Hill Cumorah Pageant in upstate New York, the Manti Pageant in Utah, the Nauvoo Pageant in Illinois, and the Mesa Easter Pageant in Arizona. The nature and extravagance of the pageants vary by location, with some live orchestras, dancing, and hundreds of costumed performers, mostly local church members. Based on deep historical research and enhanced by the author's interviews with pageant producers and cast members as well as the author's own experiences as a participant-observer, the book reveals the strategies by which these pageants resurrect the Mormon past on stage. Jones analyzes the place of the productions within the American theatrical landscape and draws connections between the Latter-day Saints theology of the redemption of the dead and Mormon pageantry in the three related sites of sacred space, participation, and spectatorship. Using a combination of religious and performance theory, Jones demonstrates that Mormon pageantry is a rich and complex site of engagement between theater, theology, and praxis that explores the saving power of performance.
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