“Alabama Story,” Ripe With American Themes, Gets Washington, DC Premiere March 22-April 15
Monday, March 26, 2018
Posted by: Yumeka Brown
A true story of censorship and Civil Rights will leap from the pages of history and into its Washington, DC premiere in Washington Stage Guild’s production of Kenneth Jones’ six-actor play, Alabama Story,March 22-April 15 at the Undercroft Theatre. Casting was announced on Feb. 27.
In the play, a gentle children’s book with an apparent hidden message stirs the passions of a segregationist state senator and a no-nonsense state librarian in 1959 Montgomery, just as the Civil Rights Movement is flowering. Inspired by true events, Alabama Story puts politicians, state employees, star-crossed childhood friends — and one feisty author — in a struggle for the soul of the Deep South.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1958 publication of “The Rabbits’ Wedding,” author-illustrator Garth Williams’ children’s picture book about a rabbit with white fur who marries a rabbit with black fur. The persecution of Alabama State Librarian Emily Wheelock Reed, who protected the book in the year that followed, would put Alabama politicians, policies and perspectives in an international spotlight. In the play, a parallel tale of estranged childhood friends, Lily and Joshua, reunited in Montgomery in 1959, echoes the tensions swirling in the state capital. (Industry folk may request a perusal copy of the play here.)
Washington Stage Guild’s commitment to produce “eloquent plays of idea and argument, passion and wit” continues with this play about censorship, Civil Rights, political discourse and how American character is tested in times of great social change. The highly theatrical play was nominated for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Play Award in 2016. Rehearsals began Feb. 27.
American Theatre magazine pointed out the play’s “freshly relevant themes” when the play made its debut in 2015; those themes are perhaps more alive today as stories of persecuted women, Alabama politicians, states’ rights, criticism of the First Amendment, #metoo, and our enduring national wound of racism crowd today’s headlines. Learn more about Alabama Story.