About me

Eric Samuelsen here.  I’m a playwright and a critic, a theatre director and occasional actor, a baseball fan and a Democrat, a Mormon and a Christian, and a retired college professor.  I earned a PhD in Theatre History and Criticism from Indiana University, then taught at Brigham Young University for twenty years.  I was then diagnosed with polymyositis, an incurable muscular degenerative auto-immune disease, which forced my early medical retirement.  I’m the father of four wonderful children, and very happily married for thirty two years.  My plays have won multiple awards, and have been produced all over the country.  I am also a recent winner of the Smith-Pettit Award, for oustanding lifetime contributions to Mormon Letters. I am resident playwright at Plan B Theatre company in Salt Lake City.  And I’m a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants.

30 thoughts on “About me

  1. Alex Kazan

    Pleasure meeting you Eric. I’m a Liberal Mormon, and I specifically liked your comment “…people who call themselves Christian to re-examine their souls, and their attitudes towards their brothers and sisters.” I feel the same way every Sunday when I attend church.

  2. Diana Reynolds

    Just found your blog. Love it. I’m a Hoosier living in Indianapolis and love the Indiana connection. Being a liberal Mormon here in the reddest of red states is difficult at best. But I plug along as the “weirdo” in my ward. Your posts give me strength. Thanks for writing. Oh, and “Go IU!”

    1. Alex Kazan

      Hi Diana, just wanted to say I know exactly what you mean. Is there a website for Mormon liberals. I think there should be. At times I feel very lonely.

  3. Brett Nordquist

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and it’s become one of the few I look forward to each day. I recently moved from the Seattle area to St. George and I’m still hanging tough as one of the new non-conservative in my neighborhood and ward. Keep up the excellent writing.

  4. notallright (@notallright)

    You and I are politically poles apart, yet your eloquent and witty post on the filibuster is one of the best I’ve ever read. I especially admire your remarks about eccentrics. Yes, let’s do keep the national conversation going! Thank you for your blog!

  5. Juliathepoet

    Some days I mourn when i don’t have a post in my inbox I know it is just because you are in rehearsals for a new and brilliant play.

    If you haven’t seen the review on FMH yet, get a few tissues. Then, please start a Kickstarter so that those of us who are part of the Mormon diaspora have a way to watch, share and cherish the performances on video. I don’t mean turn your shows into movies, just into well shot videos of the plays. Please. (I will beg, or help run the promotion for the Kickstarter, or whatever is most helpful.) Think of it as a Keepa project for the 20teens. 😉

  6. John Draper

    Hello. I’m looking for someone who was a liberal Mormon in 1979. I’m writing my first novel and it takes place in 1979, shortly after Spencer Kimball removed the priesthood bad. One of my characters is an progressive/liberal Mormon in the ward. I would like to talk to a liberal Mormon who lived through this period. It will help me create the character sketch for this character

    1. Karen Heiner

      Did you find the person you were looking for? If not, I can put you in touch with my mom. She fits the description.

      1. John Draper

        I don’t need a liberal mormon anymore as much as I need an ex mormon returned missionary. Liberal in general would be good because there’s swearing and sex in it. I’d like to pay him/her to read my novel.

  7. Mary Webb

    For Immediate Release
    Contact: Mary Matoula Webb at 646-316-1527

    Matoula Productions Presents

    As part of the 23rd Annual San Francisco Fringe Festival
    September 5 -20, 2014
    EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
    Tickets: $10-12.99. For tickets visit http://www.SFfringe.org

    Playwright and director, Mary Matoula Webb is proud to present LOVE AT HOME, a play centering on a Mormon and a lesbian, as part of the 14 day San Francisco Fringe Festival. Love At Home performs September 5, 9, 10, 11, 14, 2014

    Love At Home follows two sisters from their tweens in the 1990’s to the summer after Prop. 8 was passed. Journey with them as they struggle to find a loving space between faith and family while navigating the complexities of a unique religion in the face of massive social change. This insightful full length play asks, “Can a lesbian and a devout Mormon find love at home and faith in each other?”

    The cast includes Cat Cabral, Tygar Hicks, Denise Hungerford, and Richard Webb.

    Love At Home, immediately following a successful run at the New York International Fringe Festival, is honored to be a part of the San Francisco Fringe Festival, with it’s reputation for bringing fresh, daring, independent theatre of all varieties to open-minded audiences of all persuasions.

    EXIT Theatre is within walking distance of Union Square and the Powell Street BART station. Tickets at http://love-at-home.bpt.me/ or calling (415) 673-3847.

    Mary Matoula Webb, a SF Bay Area native now living in New York City, has studied playwriting at ESPA Primary Stages and Foothill College. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and founding member of the John Doe Theater Co. and Us/3 Productions. Her work has been produced by the EstroGenius Festival, the Incoming Tide Festival, Theatre 68, The Short Play Lab, and has been performed in acting workshops throughout NYC. To learn more about her, please visit MaryMatoulaWebb.com. To learn more about Love At Home, please visit LoveAtHomeThePlay.com

  8. Kenna

    Hi Dr. Samuelsen, I am doing a class project about you and your plays for my Dramatic Analysis class.
    I was wondering what you would consider your top/best five or six full length plays? And where your ideas to write come from? (Obviously Mormon culture, but as you are relatively prolific as far as LDS playwrights go, and your plays have the tendency to center around topical or thematic structures, how do you go about grabbing those ideas?)
    I would really appreciate what ever time you had to offer. And thanks so much for your talent and skills. I’ve so enjoyed reading the plays I have read so far.

  9. editorjen

    Ha! I knew there were multiple reasons why I like you! Remind me to tell you about being at the White House. With Paul McCartney.

  10. Larry Morris

    Eric, I just discovered your blog, and I’m enjoying it. My favorite pitching performance in a World Series was that of Dizzy and Paul Dean in 1934. Between them, they won all four games. True, Dizzy lost game 5, but that was after getting knocked out as a pitch runner in game 4. Dizzy also got three hits and scored three runs in the series. He pitched a shut out in game 7, and, if I remember right, never walked a batter and never ran the count to 3-2.

  11. christensene

    Hello Dr. Samuelsen! Nice to read your blog. So sorry to hear about the illness. Keith tells our kids fun stories about missionary adventures the two of you had in Norway. We have 2 kids at BYU. It would be nice to visit you on one of our trips to Provo. –Elizabeth

  12. Ward

    Dr. Samuelsen:

    Would you get in touch with me? I’d like to have a conversation about nuclear weapons and the Church of Latter Day Saints.

    ward {at} rethinkingnuclearweapons.org


    Ward Wilson

    PS Great blog.

  13. Anonymous

    Hello Eric, I’m Jean Marie Fowler Liddell….Does that name sound familiar? I grew up across the street from Bestemor and Bestefar in Provo Utah… I have been looking at old pictures I found at my mom and Dads house and found some of Bestemor…That got me thinking about your family, Scott, Lora and Liz…Just curious how and where everyone ended up…

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  15. Anonymous

    Hi Eric. I stumbled across your blog following a Google link about a soccer player… and what a wonderful surprise! I’m not Mormon but live in an area with a large contingent, most of whom I truly like and enjoy, and most of whom are VERY politically/socially conservative. Although not a “bleeding heart”, my beliefs lean left and it is refreshing to find there is a liberal LDS voice (you and Harry Reid !!)….and beautifully well written to boot. You have a new fan.

  16. Karen Raney Short

    WOW WOW WOW!!!! I remember when you were a student at IU teaching some crazy kids seminary!!!!! I was one of your students in seminary!!!! I am honored and proud to see where you are today!!!! Thank you for all you taught me and making it fun!!! I just recently found you on facebook, and today found your blog!!! I am excited to start reading it!!!!!

  17. John Draper

    Hello. I’m a subscriber. Just started my own blog. Somehow I have subscribed to your blog, as I get an email whenever you post a new post. However, I just went back on your site and I can’t find a subscribe button anywhere. I can’t remember how I did it. Do you still have email subscribe functionality on your site? If so, where is it — and how can I put it on my new blog?

  18. Patrick

    Thank you for your wonderful thoughts on RISEN! I produced the film and am grateful you wrote about it on your blog. Please feel free to contact me at my email address so we may connect.

  19. Stephen

    I wanted to get your feedback on a 9-episode podcast I’m doing.

    It’s called Strangers and Pilgrims. Season 1 is the story of the Death of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. Here is a link to the podcast on itunes: goo.gl/kVpbSP

    If you have time to listen I’d love to hear your thoughts on the podcast — especially from a dramatic / narrative perspective. I really like Mormon History and Dramatic Storytelling. This podcast is, I guess you’d say, my attempt to try and figure out how to tell the story of Joseph Smith dramatically.


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