Troy Williams (pictured, right; interviewed below) co-created the character of Sister Dottie S. Dixon with actor Charles Frost (left) for short segments on KRCL radio. Pygmalion Productions premieres the full-length play The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon at the Rose Wagner Center, May 1-16 (801-355-ARTS)
Who is Dottie S. Dixon?
She’s a Mormon housewife from Spanish Fork, Utah, with a gay son. And she’s active in her ward.
What has been the reaction of Mormons to this character?
Progressive Mormons love Dottie. But I also get a lot of hate e-mails as well. I get both extremes. People that are secure in their faith don’t have a problem with her.
How did she come into being?
The LDS Church’s attacks on gays and lesbians have been nonstop. We needed to approach this subject in a comical, satirical manner. I thought that it would be more effective than these earnest appeals: “Please like us, please like us!” … Mormons were once an ostracized people. And as they’ve assimilated into American culture, to show their patriotism they’ve targeted another minority to prove their Americanness. It’s the politics of the playground all over again: You get bullied as a kid, then you turn around to find someone weaker to bully yourself.
How did you take a character that had been in three-minute segments to a full-length story?
I woke up in the morning a year and a half ago and said, “Dottie is Joan of Arc.” I wanted to do a latter-day re-telling of the Joan of Arc story through Dottie. I think people will be surprised that it’s not a stand-up show. It has a very classical structure to it, very much the hero’s journey.
Was it difficult to bring a radio character into physical being, with a male actor in drag?
Charles [Frost] is an Equity actor. He’s a brilliant performer. This is not a drag character for us; it’s a character an actor is playing. He really channels his mother, who this character is based on. You do find Mormon women and mothers who are a little feisty. … As I was writing, I was always thinking about Sonya Johnson … and all these amazing women who stood up to the church and lost their membership because of it. I’m trying to channel their spirit so Dottie’s experience will represent the experience of real Mormon women—and every parent who has a gay kid, and feels they have to choose between their church and their child.