Amber and Anna were both enrolled in a storytelling class at Brigham Young University (BYU) in early 2011. Women of Faith was Anna’s idea first. She had created a piece about Joan of Arc as an assignment for the storytelling class and was inspired by Joan’s life. She wanted to create another performance that told the stories of more strong women, particularly, stories of women of faith. This was one idea among many for Anna, and so Amber initially encouraged her to let this project sit on the back burner for a bit.
Later that summer, Amber remembered the idea with a bit of force. When she reunited with Anna at the end of the summer it was to a new tune, and Amber suggested that together they revisit the idea. This was in September of 2011, just after the Church published Daughters in My Kingdom. Amber and Anna gathered a team of story junkies and friends, and using Daughters in My Kingdom as their home base, they started brainstorming.
This early team whittled down to three: Anna, Amber, and Camlyn. Together, the three of them created a project called Women of Faith that was almost entirely different from the film you can watch today. Their parent version featured women like Anne Hutchinson, Emmeline B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, and Belle Spafford.
The Stage Play
But things didn’t work out for this initial project, and so with heavy hearts, Anna, Amber, and Camlyn let it go. The following summer, Anna’s roommate, Jen, returned to Provo, Utah after interning with the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago. Jen was a senior and she wanted to use the devising practices she had learned while an intern with Lookingglass for her senior directing project.
She had heard about Women of Faith from Anna and asked if she could use the idea for her senior project. The original team heartily consented, and turned over the project to Jen. Jen found the rest of the team. Katie, Lela, Chelsea, and Carlen came on board through the audition advertisement. Busy Becca was personally recruited by Jen to join the cast.
Jen brought new life to Women of Faith. Jen’s theatrical process centered around asking questions. As the head collaborator (she refused to be called by director) she fostered group creativity by creating an environment where everyone felt like they could explore their questions without being judged or misunderstood. And question they did. They asked about themselves, they asked about womanhood, and they asked about God.
This, in addition to another creative process called devising, allowed the nine girls to write Women of Faith (the stage play) together. And they did it in a six weeks. Women of Faith had four performances in November of 2012. It was a powerful experience for all of them. After the run of the show had ended the entire cast felt strongly that they wanted to continue sharing these stories.
That’s when it occurred to them to make a film.
Thankfully, more talented, generous artists found their way to Women of Faith. The first was film director, Derek Dunn. Derek’s influence changed the project from the get-go. He suggested that the setting of the story be changed from a statue garden to a portrait gallery. That’s where Annie Henrie, the artist who created the six beautiful portraits you see in the film, came in.
This new larger team started adapting the film in April of 2013, and moved into production in June. It was a hectic couple of months in which the entire cast and crew were blessed to see many miracles of the timing, financial, and artistic variety change the project. In late June of 2013, the project moved into post-production, and to the great joy of all involved it was finished in January of 2014.
Beginning in February of 2014, Amber and Anna, the producers of Women of Faith, will be screening the film as part of their Daughters fireside. Daughters will be both a screening of the film and a sharing of the lessons that Amber and Anna learned about womanhood in the years they worked on Women of Faith.
If you’d like Anna and Amber to come to your meetinghouse for a Daughters fireside, shoot them a message through the Engage tab.
Welcome Table Productions is now in pre-production for a web-based documentary series featuring the stories of contemporary women of faith. This series, tentatively titled Splitting the Sky, will debut sometime early 2015.
If you’d like to learn more about future projects take a look at the Donate tab.
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