“How did you enjoy the play,” I asked someone I had seen in the audience at Winnipeg’s Prairie Theatre Exchange the night before. “Enjoy isn’t really a word you can use for that play.” he said.
Last Saturday my cousin Lynne took me to see the play Gracie for my birthday. It follows a young girl from childhood to her teen years. She is living with a fundamentalist Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints group in Bountiful British Columbia. Her mother becomes the 18th wife of the group’s leader and Gracie tells us all about her life in the community. The play starts when Gracie is eight and ends when she is fifteen and destined to become the wife of a much older man.
To give the writer Joan MacLeod credit for being balanced we not only learn about the scary and difficult aspects of the community but also discover that Gracie experiences lots of love there and a sense of belonging and security.
Although Gracie is a fictional character Joan MacLeod visited the Bountiful community to do research and found some normalcy in the young people she encountered. In an interview she said while it might seem unimaginable to us that a mother would allow her teenaged daughter to become one of the many wives of a much older man it is important to remember that, from the perspective of the fundamentalist mother, such a choice is the only one that will put her daughter on the path of eternal salvation.
According to a Globe and Mail story a man and woman from the Bountiful community were recently sent to jail for taking their thirteen year old daughter to the United States to marry an American man from their sect who is now in prison for assaulting two of his child brides.
Even though I am a person of faith the play made me wonder as I often do if the world wouldn’t be better off without organized religion.