Since their establishment in 1991, Plan-B has created “unique and socially conscious theatre” for Salt Lake City, Utah residents and its visitors.
The original Plan-B founders, Tobin Atkinson and Cheryl Ann Cluff, started out as theatre students at Southern Utah State College (now Southern Utah University), but opening their own theatre was actually their “Plan B.” As they describe, “Plan A” was for them to make it big in New York City as famous actors. “Plan B” was to create a place for more diverse, socially conscious theatre they rarely saw performed in Salt Lake City. They ended up going with Plan-B.
They have always wanted to focus on new plays by Utah playwrights to give their pieces a local point-of-view, and when they began their journey, they started out producing original works by Atkinson himself. But when Atkinson decided to join the Army back in 2000, Jerry Rapier came on in his place.
A year later, the company found huge success with their production of The Laramie Project, a play about the murder of a gay University of Wyoming student in 1998. That success is what reaffirmed their understanding that there was indeed a huge need for socially conscious theatre, while solidifying their commitment to producing at least one LGBT-focused play each season (which the company has done ever since.)
Their overall mission and greatest challenge now with each piece they produce is to create a conversation with their audience, to provide an opportunity for patrons to consider new points-of-view, and to help their viewers reflect deeply on the lives of others.
All in all, Plan-B has produced 83 world premieres. Of these premieres, they were proud to produce Utah’s first play by both an African American playwright as well as an Asian American playwright. Nationally, five of their plays have been nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York and three have gone on to be performed in New York.
This year, they were honored with the Utah’s Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Award and Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award for Service to the Arts by an Organization. But they have also been the proud recipients of many awards over the years, including:
- Utah Governor’s Organization Leadership in the Arts Award (2015)
- Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award for Service to the Arts by an Organization (2015)
- Best Drama, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York (ERIC(A) by Matthew Ivan Bennett, 2013)
- Transgender Education Advocates of Utah’s Organization of the Year (2013)
- Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Award – Organization (2011)
- Transgender Education Advocates of Utah’s Organization of the Year (2010)
- Equality Utah’s Allies for Equality Award – Organization (2007)
- 20 QSaltLake Fabby Awards (2005-present), including ‘Best Local Theatre Company’ all 11 years the award has existed
- 50 City Weekly Slammy/Arty Awards (2000-present), including ‘Best Local Theatre Production’ 13 of the past 14 seasons
Plan B’s 25th Season has been full of incredible actors, playwrights, directors, and important social issues. And we are especially looking forward to Kingdom of Heaven by Jenifer Nii and David Evanoff which will run March 31 – April 10, 2016. This piece is supported in part by the Peace & Possibility Project.
This production explores our universal quest for self-acceptance complicated by our culture of perfection through the life of one Mormon housewife’s affinity for drag. When Mary Jane (Jeanette Puhich) discovers her true calling (as a drag king), she must traverse the landscape of impactful affects on her family, marriage, friendships, and faith.
As our conversation on LGBTQ matters grows and evolves nationwide, this play will explore the important roles (especially within religion) that we assign to women and how they can differ in huge and often harmful ways from who women truly are and want to be. Locally, this speaks very true to Utah’s large Mormon population.
The play will be directed by Jerry Rapier himself, and as he told QSaltLake Magazine, “It’s very universal in its approach to what it means to be a woman who doesn’t fit into the faith that she loves.”
Written from the author of Wallace (co-written with Debora Threedy), The Scarlet Letter, Suffrage and Ruff!, and the musical director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the composer of six Radio Hour episodes.
Plan-B has told so many powerful stories through theater, and it is through productions like this that we can come together as a community to understand both our differences and similarities and hopefully create a more empathetic and understanding place to live.
Jane Marquardt and Tami are proud to support Plan-B and their ongoing efforts to bringing awareness and understanding to important social issues.