Last year when I wrote my script for the Reenactment of the First Relief Society I actually also wrote a script highlighting each one of the 15 women who have held the position of "General Relief Society President." My intent was to have it be done after the reenactment, but once I realized that the reenactment was going to be a lot longer than I'd thought I decided to separate the scripts and make them two different ones. So this year for our ward's Relief Society birthday party we did the other half of my script--- the one about each of the Relief Society Presidents. I've warned my Relief Society though that I don't have any more scripts up my sleeve for next year--so they can't get their hopes up!
Each woman had an introduction that included historical information about the time in which she lived and things that happened in the church and in the Relief Society while she was president. Then I had each actress read a quote by the president she was portraying and then she went and sat under her name on the stage. I wasn't in the performance this year because I wanted to watch and it was really a powerful thing to see all those women lined up on the stage. It reminded me that even though our clothes might be different and the world we live in more complex that we are are still all sisters in the gospel and are working towards the same goal.
I purposely left an empty chair after Julie B. Beck (the current president) to indicate that the line will just keep going and that in the future there will be more women who will serve as the General Relief Society President.
All my actresses did a wonderful job. I was so impressed with their costumes. I put them each in charge of finding their own and they did such a good job.Here is our Belle Spafford (1945-1974)
And our Amy Brown Lyman (1940-1945)
Don't they look great!
I think the most touching part of the program was the very end. Instead of doing Emma Smith (the first president) at the start I saved her till the very last and this is what I wrote:
You many have noticed that we have skipped over one of the Relief Society Presidents tonight. That is because, the story of Emma Smith, (have Emma come out and in the middle of the stage) the first president of the Relief Society is a hard one to tell. We thought that it would only be appropriate and fair to have someone who knew her intimately, as a friend and fellow relief society sister, tell her story tonight. Eliza R. Snow would you please come up.
Then the woman who played Eliza R. Snow sang the song "Emma" by Jason Deere from "Joseph: A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet." I've posted the song at the bottom of the post in case you haven't ever heard it. It is a beautiful song. The spirit was so strong as our Eliza sang it and the woman playing Emma burst out into tears. Afterwards they embraced and it was such a sweet moment and I couldn't help but think that if the real Emma and Eliza had been there that night it wouldn't have been much different.
I was a bit nervous about how this program was going to turn out-- I was afraid it might be boring-- but it turned out really beautiful. Half of the room was in tears when it was over and I consider tears (of joy, not boredom) to be the best sign that things went well! It was also nice that this one took MUCH less planning to pull off than the re-enactment.
If you'd like a copy of the script you can access it here. It runs about 35- 40 minutes and, like the reenactment, you are welcome to use it but PLEASE make sure you give me credit for writing it. I took some of the historical information from an anonymous script called "Emma's Garden Party" and I took all the Relief Society President's quotes from the book "Faith, Hope and Charity: Inspiration from the Lives of General Relief Society Presidents" by Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt. All the quotes are real things that each woman said or wrote during her lifetime.
Here is the Emma song. You can buy the sheet music here for $5.