As the fourth prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wilford Woodruff is well known among the Saints. However, a new play, “Wilford’s Conversion,” offers up little-known stories of Woodruff’s life before his conversion.
Karen Findlay, the mind behind “Wilford’s Conversion,” said although she majored in English teaching at BYU, she has always wanted to write a play but has been intimidated by the idea.
However, Findlay’s chance came last year when Marilyn Oblad, a descendent of Wilford Woodruff and owner of his historical farm house, contacted her.
“She asked me if I could help with this play that she does every year about Wilford Woodruff,” Findlay said. “I looked at what she had and I decided I wanted to write a new script for her.”
When deciding how to write the play, Findlay went back and forth from ideas about polygamy and the manifesto period before finally deciding to write about Woodruff’s conversion story.
“I spent a lot of time reading the biography of Wilford Woodruff,” Findlay said. “I checked out a whole bunch of his huge journal volumes at the library.”
Joshua Huss from Tucson, Ariz., plays the part of Wilford Woodruff, and said he enjoys the subject matter of the play because of the different aspects of Woodruff’s life that are not widely known.
“You get to see Wilford Woodruff kind of before he’s a member of the Church, and before he has really grown up,” Huss said. “Even these great men, they started out somewhere.”
Patrick Boyd, from Botson, Mass., plays one of the missionaries who teaches the gospel to Wilford Woodruff and said acting out situations in a play helped him understand Woodruff’s life on a deeper level.
“It’s fun to take scripture and bring it to life and live it and really appreciate what they went through,” Boyd said. “It’s one thing to read scriptures, but its another to act it out and say the things that they said.”
Boyd said this has not only been a good experience for himself and the other actors, but it’s sure to be a good experience for audience members looking for wholesome activities this coming Pioneer Day.
“It’s using your time and talents to uplift the kingdom, keep the story alive and tell it in a new format,” Boyd said. “It’s a great way to celebrate Pioneer Day.”
“Wilford’s Conversion” will play at the Wilford Woodruff Farmhouse historic site on July 23 at 7 p.m., and July 24 at 4 p.m and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and children get in free.