Letter From A Prophet • A Play

Letter From A Prophet • A Play

a play in three acts by Eric Samuelsen and Charles Metten

These are not the letters that Joseph wrote to Emma, or the Twelve, or to officials in order to re-dress his wrongs. This letter, from a Prophet of God (Joseph Smith), written during his incarceration in Liberty Jail, shortly after the revelation that became Sections 121, 122, & 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants, focuses on the family of the Jailor and their involvement with those that were wrongly incarcerated. Carrie Jane Bowen Butler, and her son, John Ira, fled the early Church in Pennsylvania because of the death of their husband/father, Ira Bowen. They felt it was Joseph’s fault. Carrie comes to find out that Joseph tried to save Ira, not stand by idly while he died. This seems to make little difference to Carrie, as she has lived too long with the bitter pill. She has now married William Butler. They have a child, Mary Butler. Now, Joseph comes to her husband’s jail in Clay County Missouri –– Liberty Jail––with five other Mormon men. This is her story, and the story of her son, John, as they re-connect with their faith, testing the waters until tragedy happens again.

This play would make the perfect “In Repertory” play with the Musical, “Liberty Jail” as the same cast could do both shows on alternating nights.


  • 12 Men, 4 Women, 1 Girl, 1 Boy, Extras
    • Carrie Jane O’Riley Bowan Butler –– 42, Carrie is a short, thin, redhaired woman, 39 years old. She has fantastic energy, but the weight of her energy and her life have worn her down. She is from English-Irish lower-class stock, and resents it, and shows that resentment by refusing to quit fighting, however hopelessly, for a future greatness, if not for her, then for her 2 children. She’s a formidable, untrained, self-taught intellectual, and is therefore not liked by other women, who consider her to be “putting on airs.” As a housewife, she’s good. Her pride forces her to attack housework (which she despises) with an almost comical ferocity.
      William Butler –– 38, her husband and keeper of the jail at Liberty, Missouri. William Butler is a big, powerful, earthy man. He’s exceptionally hard working, and profoundly unambitioned. He’s a farmer in addition to Jailor, loves both jobs, and cannot understand how anyone wouldn’t, especially a woman to whom he has given all the luxuries that he can, comprehend.
      John Ira Bowan –– 17, Carrie’s son by a previous marriage. He’s a wiry, nimble lad, outspoken, often obnoxious, sometimes charming and sometimes spoiled. Carrie dotes on him, and would deny doting on him if accused of it.
      Mary Butler –– 8, the only child of Carrie and William. Mary is an utter tomboy, who has had occasional flashes of femininity forced on her by her mother.
      Colonel Franklin W. Davis –– 58, an officer of the U.S. Army. Davis is fifty. He’s small, thin, sickly, and ramrod straight. An ascetic, brilliant, articulate man. He has an ulcerated stomach, a lisp, and a smallpox-marred face. A first-rate intellectual, and a religious fanatic. He’s also very courtly and refined.
      Sheriff Bertram Hadley –– 36, Clay County, Missouri Sheriff, a red-faced, stupid, honest, good ‘ol boy
      Slim –– A guard, in his 20’s
      Harvey –– A guard, in his 30’s
      Joseph Smith, Jr. –– The Mormon Prophet
      Hyrum Smith –– his brother, non-speaking
      Emma Smith –– his wife
      Joseph Smith III –– a boy, age 6
      Alexander McRae –– a prisoner in the jail
      Amelia McRae –– his wife
      Sidney Rigdon –– a prisoner, old and sick, non-speaking
      Caleb Baldwin –– a prisoner, non-speaking
      Lyman Wight –– a prisoner
      Rebecca Wells –– John Bowan’s girlfriend, 16 years old
      Dr. Horner –– in his 60’s, non-speaking
      Several extra guards
  • Period Setting of 2 Exteriors
  • 1830s Costumes
  • ORDER #2098


  • The PERUSAL PAGES file is in PDF format and contains the first half of this play: Letter From A Prophet PERUSAL
  • EMAIL us for rights and information. Be sure to give us anticipated performance dates and the address of your group and, if different, your theatre. Please also include a contact name and phone number.


(Any PDF purchased will be emailed to your email address — if you need to provide that to us (not the one on your PayPal account?), email us. CDs will be mailed to a snail mail address. Do not purchase rehearsal materials or pay for royalties until you have performance clearance.)

    • Script in PDF format  — Order #2098a : $25.00 (from which you will be authorized to copy for your production)

    • First Performance Church/Amateur/Educational Royalty — Order #2098d : $50

    • Second Performance Church/Amateur/Educational Royalty — Order #2098e : $40

  • Professional Royalties will be quoted upon application
  • EMAIL us for rights and information. Be sure to give us anticipated performance dates and the address of your group and, if different, your theatre. Please also include a contact name and phone number.


  • Premiere by Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) — 1980

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The following is how the credits should read in all programs, posters, fliers, handbills and other promotional advertising for the show:

Letter From A Prophet
A  Play

Eric Samuelsen and Charles Metten

NOTE: The names of the Playwright(s), Composer, Lyricist, and Bookwriter shall be equal in size, type, coloring, boldness, and prominence. No billing shall appear in type larger or more prominent than the billing to the Authors except for the title of the play. (In a press release all type, will of course, be the same size.)


Letter From A Prophet is presented through special arrangement with Premiére Theatrical Licensing, on behalf of Leicester Bay Theatricals.  All authorized materials are also supplied by LBT, www.leicesterbaytheatricals.com”


From the catalog of