Alabama Story, the six-actor drama by Kenneth Jones in which real and fictional characters leap off the history pages and into “the Deep South of the imagination,” will get its Texas premiere July 12-28, 2018, by Southwest Theatre Productions in Austin. Artistic director Kat Sparks will direct.
Performances will play Trinity Street Theatre in Austin. Here’s how SWTP bills the play: “In 1959 during the Civil Rights Movement, a famed author and illustrator creates a children’s book about a black rabbit and a white rabbit getting married. Citizens and a senator demand the state librarian ban the book, believing it to be a secret message encouraging children to marry outside of their race. The librarian refuses, setting off an avalanche of conflict, controversy, and self-reflection.” Get tickets here.
Alabama Story was a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, a 2014 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist and set box office records for productions in Salt Lake City and Sarasota, FL. Licensing is arranged directly through the playwright. Request a perusal copy here.
The drama — a mix of courtroom thriller, memory play, romance and social-justice drama — tells the true story of an Alabama librarian named Emily Reed who was persecuted by segregationist politicians for protecting a children’s book in the Jim Crow South of 1959. (The book, Garth Williams’ “The Rabbits’ Wedding,” concerns the marriage of a black rabbit and a white rabbit.) The battle between Reed and Sen. E.W. Higgins made international headlines. Spring 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of the infamous book.
The Austin troupe of Alabama Story includes Nancy Gray, Stephen Phillips, Scott Galbreath, Ryan Smith, Sarah Joy Byington and Derek Webster.
Famed children’s author Garth Williams is an interloper in the highly theatrical play, taking on a number of supporting roles. A parallel story to the library drama concerns the reunion of childhood friends Lily and Joshua, a white woman and an African American man who meet in 1959 and recall a tragic event from their childhood in rural Alabama.
American Theatre magazine cited Alabama Story for its “freshly relevant themes.”
By the end of the current 2017-18 season, the play will have been seen in 17 markets around the country since its 2015 world premiere by Pioneer Theatre Company. (The San Jose run recently ended, as did the run at Clarence Brown Theatre in Tennessee, where the box office exceeded goal.)
Learn more about the history of Alabama Story.
A resident professional theatre that has performed at different spaces throughout Austin, Southwest Theatre Productions gives a portion of its proceeds to charitable groups. The company’s recent production was Steven Levenson’s If I Forget Jan. 19-Feb. 4, 2018.