Bringing Jane Manning James into the 21st Century

Note: It is a pleasure to have Margaret Blair Young contribute to JI’s monthlong series on issues of Race and Mormonism. Margaret Blair Young has written extensively on Blacks in the western USA and particilarly Black Latter-day Saints. Much of her work has been co-authored with Darius Gray. She authored I Am Jane.

The first staged reading of I Am Jane was on the Nelke theater stage at BYU. It was the climax of a playwriting class, and met some deserved criticism. It was, as I recall, about 120 pages. Too many words. The first draft I wrote used a clichéd convention: rebellious teenager dreams about/ learns about/ re-enacts the life of a heroic ancestor and gains self-respect and courage. But such a play is more about the teen than the character whose life I wanted to explore. And I was researching it even as I was scripting the play.

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