Wednesday, February 11, 2015


A Burning in the Bosom, a play written by Melissa Leilani Larson, is a depiction of a single woman attending a meeting at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She bumbles in, arms filled with supplies for the meetings, late, flustered, tired. The entire play is a stream of consciousness, her thoughts meandering from one subject to another. The main gist of what her thoughts are leading to is her questioning her ability to feel the Holy Ghost, the Spirit that the LDS people associate with a ‘burning in the bosom,’ among other descriptions. The depth to this feeling is that it is a confirmation of the truthfulness of the gospel taught by the Latter-day Saint religion. She more or less explains through her personal thoughts, acted through a voice-over as she sits quietly in her pew, how she is unsure if she’s ever had the ‘burning in the bosom’ feeling that so many of her peers and fellow members seem to experience. The play ends with her thoughts interrupted by the implication that she does in fact feel this ‘burning in the bosom’ and her acceptance and recognition of the feeling. The entirety of the play is voice-over, leaving little room for acting.

This play holds a lot of truth and relatability factors, but really only for those familiar with the Latter-day Saint vernacular, customs, and general teachings. Unless one is accustomed to this church, then they might very well get lost with frequent references to; hymns in the very first few lines (most of which are only in an LDS hymnbook); her talk about Sunbeams (small children, not rays of light); the ‘G.A’ Bruce R. McConkie (one of the leaders of the Church, a ‘General Authority’); her mention of Nephi (an ancient prophet who contributed writing in the Book of Mormon), and various other ‘Mormon’ references. This is all great—so long as the LDS community wants to keep their art and plays within only their community. This use of vernacular is off-putting to anyone who is not familiar with the LDS culture and religion. If these play-writes want to expand their audience and really get some recognition? Either those missionaries better pick up their pace or the plays need to be more all-types-of-people-friendly.


  1. I agree that members of the church would do well to write more works for the general population. However, I also think we Mormons need some individualized writing, so it didn't bother me that this play was targeted at Mormons. What bugged me most was how neatly it ended. I would've liked Larson to have made it clear that the "burning in the bosom" isn't the only way or even the best way to feel the Spirit.

  2. I identified with the play at times because it can be frustrating when you want to feel the Spirit and cant. Yet, like you, I wondered how a non-LDS reader would take this. I agree with Katie in the sense that it is nice to have individualized writing so I wonder if the purpose of the play/the whole compilation specifically for a Mormon audience or were their prospects larger than that?