Roadshows: Are They Gone Forever?

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Today’s post is by Ghost Writer.
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Mormon Roadshows Sent Packing
Salt Lake Tribune 31Jul99 L2

By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune
Many Mormons who have grown up in the LDS church have performed in a roadshow at least once in their lives. People who later grew up to be bankers, lawyers and professors, willingly — even happily — participated in that uniquely Mormon summertime ritual: the roadshow.

However, in the past decade, roadshows have fallen prey to dwindling ward budgets, a lagging interest in the theatrical experience, and the predominance of passive entertainment such as TV, movies, and the Internet. In the last decade, the roadshow has become a voluntary and infrequent local event. Few new ward houses include a stage, and even fewer continue the roadshow tradition itself.

Roadshows, 15-minute skits acted by members of an LDS ward were performed over and over in all the wards in an LDS stake in a single night. Performers travelled between church buildings in a caravan of cars on a tight time schedule. They began as entertainment for weary pioneers and blossomed into a full-blown theatrical tradition in the 1950s and 1960s. At the roadshows’ pinnacle, the LDS Church sponsored an all-church competition, bringing regional winners to Salt Lake City for the final competition.

This article was written back in 1999.

• Does it still apply almost a decade later?
• Has technology changed roadshows i.e. Video Roadshows?
• Have you ever been to a video roadshow what was it like?
• Have your stakes written it off for good?
• Do you think their could be a Roadshow resurgence of the Roadshow?
• Is it a good thing they have gone?

Comments

comments

Comments 18

  1. The loss of the road show, and I do think it is now lost, is a tragedy. I thought, however, that it was by church wide policy I did’t know that it was possible to revive. I have thought it was part of the new church movment you know. “less awsome, more mundane”.

  2. I’m not really sure what the point of roadshows was in retrospect. I’ve been involved in plenty of them. I always thought it was a youth activity, but I was called as cultural director of a ward in 2000 (which meant I had to do the roadshow), and we were told to involve as many ward members as possible, adults, kids, everyone. I think Hale Center pushed them out of business.

    My favorite roadshow moment was in a musical where we sang an AC/DC song (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap).

  3. Our stake did a one-day, all-day roadshow late last year as a YW/YM activity. The kids showed up in the morning, divided into random groups not along ward lines, got costumes and props that they had never seen, developed their skits with the oversight of one adult per group, then performed the skits that evening for the stake – mostly parents and friends, but the gym was full. (It was a 12-hour day, with two meal breaks.)

    The kids absolutely LOVED it, and the skits were a blast – some incredibly funny pop references sprinkled throughout all of them. It was almost six months ago, but my girls still mention it occasionally – interjecting some line from one of the skits completely out of the blue.

  4. I have wonderful memories of roadshows during my Youth. The lack of “productions” and or roadshows in a Stake or Ward is felt especially by the youth. Church used to be fun as well as instructional. With all of the programs. ..YW medalion, Eagle Scout. . .it was a great thing for members of the Ward to just have fun together. It also helped with Ward bonding- and pride back in the day of compeitions. I remember when our Ward was selected as the winning Ward– I knew that the church was true from that moment forward!!!!

  5. Gas prices have something to do with the decline in theatricals, but these changes happened long before this century dawned. Not only roadshows, but most “just for fun” Church activities on any large, involved scale have been abandoned: pageants, dance festivals, all-church basketball tournaments, etc. These were relics of a time before “doctrine” was heavily emphasized, whatever that means.

    I read Elder Maxwell criticizing “Give, Said the Little Stream” as not doctrinal enough. I guess doctrine has to be metaphysical or eschatological to be worth teaching anymore, can’t teach kids about values like sharing and giving…

  6. Participated back in the day (the 70’s). Sure all the parents and advisers would say the kids all “loved it”. I dreaded it and only participated because of the guilt and shame it would bring me and the fam if I opted out. Every GOOD boy and girl did this after all. Good bye and rest in peace.

  7. 1. Block program and other emphasis on decreasing demands for leaders and increasing time with family.

    2. Standardized budgets and cost-saving standard building designs which were void of a stage.

    3. The emergence of the “over-scheduling” trend for parents to keep the kids involved and trends for high school extracurricular activities to require longer amounts of time…more sports camps and more off season training for sports, more detailed marching and concert band programs with lengthened practice times. Soccor becoming a larger youth activity. Chess Club becoming a more accepted activity for those youth that are less athletic.

    4. Leaders weary of trying to find new themes and ideas for things that have not been done before and battling the dilemma of the small wards less effectively organized wards trying to “compete” against the powerhouse wards. Our stake tried to decrease the level of competitiveness by change awards of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to giving everyone a category of Superior, Excellent or Good only to be foiled when only one entry fell into the good criteria, so they effectively “awarded” them with recognition that theirs was the worst performance.

    I do miss the uniquely Mormon roadshow activity and how people with previously undiscovered theatrical talent shined in new roles. I haven’t been in many wards that have a stage anymore. I also live in a stake that would be geographically challenged to do a traveling show in one evening. The predominance of passive entertainment, however is a trend that needs to be reversed, but this seems harder and harder to overcome when kids are saturated with passive entertainment options.

  8. I can’t even stand my own kids’ Christmas concerts, and I think the road shows were sort of fun. A lot of the people who loved road shows weren’t necessarily as jazzed about scouting, and vice-versa. I think it’s too bad that we only have one type of program to offer.

  9. I’m a 26 year old lifelong member, and I’ve never heard of a roadshow as described here, where the same show is presented multiple times in various ward houses in a single night. I have only heard of activities where the skits are only performed a single time in a single building, but they’ve still been called “roadshows.” I’ve never understood why they were called roadshows until now, and it’s finally making sense to me.

  10. The good ‘ol days are gone. Some places I’ve lived it could take you 4-5 hours to cover the stake in a car. If we all met at the stake center then there wasn’t enough room for the props. Some poor branch would go up against the big city wards and be humiliated. The Spring sing was better. Each group in the ward doing their own thing.

    Dave

  11. Our stake did a Roadshow last year and assigned a classic T.V. theme. Our Ward chairperson elected to go with an I Love Lucy spoof. I know this is completely shallow, but I was THRILLED that the group assembled for the Roadshow loved my idea and kept most of the dialogue and pratfall stuff I’d written.

    I’m a convert of 10 years. Last year was the first I’d ever heard mention of Roadshows.

  12. Our ward is doing one soon. I haven’t even heard of them before and one night they said we are having a meeting, bring your ideas. So, I don’t know. I think it will be fun. But I’m not the “theatrical” type. I will be in the background doing the cheesy background dance in a costume that fully covers my face.

  13. The Manchester England Stake is reviving the Roadshow competition again this year (March 21st) after a few years without them, and I can’t wait!!! They’re almost like doing your own pantomime, and probably the only time you’ll get to see some members of the Church do anything remotely funny!

  14. well to be honest today is the very first day that i have ever even heard of a roadshow and i have been an active member for over 8 years…but i am excited…I was called to be in the activity commity but MY main focus would be the upcoming roadshow that we are having in a month…kinda scary yet it seems that the idea is a lot of fun….i am sure a prepare kinda person that it scares me to not have more more more info…but i guess this is a 24 hour put together thing??? even more scary. I am excited to be doing this but looking for everything that i can about them…Yes i am the member that when i get a new calling i start looking every where on the church site to see what i have to do and what is expected of me!!! so i am looking right now. I know ours will be with the youth! HELP…LOL

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