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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced that the Hill Cumorah Pageant will end after its 2020 production. The Church stated that “larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged,” as it further shifts its focus to “home-centered, Church-supported curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.”
I grew up outside of Rochester, New York, and have been familiar with the Hill Cumorah Pageant for quite some time. My wife and I attended a performance at the pageant in 2002, one of the first things that sparked my ongoing interest in the Latter-day Saint.
Decision - Context - Pageants - Mormon - Culture
Here to put this decision into historical context, and explain how integral pageants have been to Mormon religious culture over the past century is Megan Sanborn Jones, professor of theatre at Brigham Young University. Her very timely book is Contemporary Mormon Pageantry: Seeking After the Dead, just published by the University of Michigan Press.
For those who know nothing about Mormon Pageantry, how important have pageants within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How many people have been participating in them and attending them each year?
Church - Jesus - Christ - Latter-day - Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially produces seven pageants and one religious musical on a regular schedule in venues across the United States and in England. These performances alone qualify the Church as the largest producer of organized religious theatre in America, and they don’t count the countless smaller skits, plays, and pageants produced by regional and local congregations. I believe that Mormon theatre is the most organized, elaborate, and extensive example of religious theatre in the United States today.
Mormon pageant experiences are carefully constructed, fully immersive events that remember, honor, and celebrate Mormon scripture and history. They have been in production for decades—beginning variously in the 1920s through the 1960s and running annually until today (with a...
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