Here’s another opportunity for those lucky enough to be in Salt Lake City next week: The Utah state history annual meeting is being held on Thursday and Friday (September 11-12) at the Salt Lake Public Library. Most sessions concern Utah rather than Mormon history; there are, however, two sessions on polygamy (panel discussions, one on history and one on law, with panelists Martha Bradley, Carmon Hardy, Michael Homer, and others) and a session given by Ron Walker and Glen Leonard concerning Massacre at Mountain Meadows.
The real novelty of this year’s meetings, however, is the premier presentation of a new play by James Arrington (“Here’s Brother Brigham,” “Farley Family Reunion,” and other regional favorites). His “The March of the Salt Soldiers” will be presented on Thursday, September 11, at 4:00, in the Salt Lake Public Library theater.
This play was commissioned by the Utah War Sesquicentennial Committee, with the financial and historical contributions of many institutions and individuals. While much of the sesquicentennial’s observance has been traditional scholarship in format (sessions presented at a great variety of professional conferences, a special issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly, the publication of Bill MacKinnon’s At Sword’s Point, Part I: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858, a forthcoming University of Utah Press book preserving the best of the research presented during the sesquicentennial observance), this play joins other cultural activities, like the poster contest for schoolchildren, historical re-enactments, and tours of Utah War sites, aimed at enhancing general public knowledge of and appreciation for this important event in Utah, regional, American, and Mormon history.
Arrington has found an ingenious way to tell the stories of the Utah War from multiple angles, without embracing the point of view of any one side. The setting is contemporary. Rather than being a mere history lesson (no “will this be on the quiz?” tedium), the narrative concerns people in a dramatic situation, with Arrington’s hallmark humor.
The presentation is free, and it’s followed by the opening reception of the state history meeting, typically including fruit and sandwiches and drink. What more could you ask for Thursday afternoon/evening entertainment while you’re waiting for ER‘s final season to start?
“March of the Salt Soldiers”
Thursday, September 11, 2008, 4:00 p.m.
Salt Lake City Public Library (210 East 400 South)
FREE TO THE PUBLIC
Reception to follow
Update: “March of the Salt Soldiers” is also playing at Centre Stage of the Sorensen Student Center on the UVU campus (Orem), on Thursday, September 11; Thursday, September 18; and Friday, September 19; 7:30 all three nights. There is a charge (I do not know the amount) for tickets to these three UVU performances. The premier on September 11 will be followed by a reception and refreshments.