Barta Heiner: Mormon Actress

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Barta Heiner Mormon Actress
Courtesy Deseret News

Barta Lee Heiner is an actress, director, and professor of acting. She has been head of the BFA acting program at Brigham Young University since 1993. In 1992 BYU honored her with the Maeser Teaching Award for her work and dedication to the school.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in speech and drama from BYU. She completed her master’s degree in acting at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. She also studied at the Lee Strasberg Studio and with Estelle Harmon, both in Los Angeles, California. She has acted professionally with the Denver Centre Theatre and has taught and directed for the National Theatre Conservatory.

Heiner has performed more than 100 roles and directed more than 40 productions. Some of her favorite roles include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Lettice in Lettice and Lovage, Abby Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace, and the title role in King Lear, as a female Lear in a post-apocalyptic society. Eric Samuelsen recalls: “She was hurting from a car crash during that time. I wasn't sure she'd be able to perform. But she did, and used her own pain and suffering to create the deepest, most remarkable Lear I've ever seen."[1]

She has appeared in several television series and movie of the week features, such as Face of Evil, Scorned and Swindled, Terror in the Family, Crossroads, Miracles and Other Wonders, and The Boys of Twilight. She has done voice work for varied productions, such as PBS Trail of Hope and Features for Families Willy the Sparrow.

She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has performed in films produced by the Church or created for members of the Church. She played Mary Whitmer in The Fourth Witness and played supporting roles in The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd, 17 Miracles, Brigham City, The Prodigal, and most recently, The Cokeville Miracle.

Heiner directs at BYU, the Castle Amphitheater, the Covey Center, and other venues. She was both assistant director and associate director for the Hill Cumorah Pageant (1988–1990). Her services as an acting and dialogue coach and consultant are also in demand, and she has worked on the films The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd and Emma Smith, My Story. She has been involved with a student-mentored film project called Diantha’s Crossing, a project inspired by her great-great-aunt, Mormon pioneer Diantha Farr Clayton.

Heiner has been an American College Theatre Festival Adjudicator. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actor’s Equity Association.