God's Fisherman (drama)
James Arrington, Tim Slover
Benson Y. Parkinson
Speaking of driving to Provo, my wife and I made the trip to seeTim Slover's and James Arrington's God's Fisherman, a one-manshow about Wilford Woodruff, on BYU's Pardoe Stage last Saturday. I'd really love to do a full-fledged review, but am just tooswamped, so I'll throw out a few comments here. The script wasdrawn almost entirely from writings of Wilford Woodruff, hisjournal and I presume speeches as well. My wife commented thatjust about everything we've seen by James Arrington uses thistechnique (Brother Brigham, the one on J. Golden Kimball--notthe one that's currently playing, Trail of Dreams, theexception being Farley Family Reunion). I think James is goodat it, and that the play succeeds very well structurally, andthat the fisherman metaphor is powerful. Stylistically thematerial presents a challenge because President Woodruff is suchan engaging writer. Spoken by a man fishing on the banks of acreen in 1847 Wyoming, it comes across as a littleoverly-polished, a little artificial. The J. Golden show's setconsisted of a podium, as I recall, and was very successful, andI wondered if that wouldn't have worked better here. PresidentWoodruff's voice comes through so clearly. One has the strongsense one knows the man when one reads him. And this presents asecond problem, one a playwright wouldn't have with a fictonalcharacter or a historical one who didn't write so well. I hadthe sense throughout that the actor's and the character's voicesdidn't match, that the actor, though talented and engaging, wasmisinterpreting the lines. I had to ask, what am I gaining byseeing this on stage, with this minimal set, with this third, forme distracting presence, that I wouldn't have more of justreading the script, just me and that strong voice and myimagination. Maybe this is a fundamental problem in one-actorportrayals of historical figures, or maybe it was just theproduction. I'd love to see Tim in the role. People say he's afine actor (as well as playwright of course), and he's also adescendent and might bring a different sensibility to the role.Anyway, I thought it was worth the trip to Provo, and in spite ofwhat I see as flaws in this production, I'd recommend it highlyfor it's subject matter and the excellence of its writing. Goprepared to listen.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Benson Parkinson Writer, AML-List Moderator (ongoing discussions on Mormon literature) lt;byparkinson@cc/weber.edugt; http://cc.weber.edu/~byparkinson/aml-list.html =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
© 1998 Benson Parkinson