Alabama Story, Kenneth Jones’ fact-inspired play about an embattled librarian in the Civil Rights era, is now published in an Acting Edition from Dramatists Play Service, which also licenses the drama to theaters throughout the world. Six actors and one set are all that’s required to bring to life “the Deep South of the imagination” that examines American character through the lens of censorship and Civil Rights.
The physical script is available at New York City’s Drama Book Shop, but if you’re not in the theater district, the best way to snag it is directly through the website of Dramatists Play Service. (Click on “Acting Edition” when purchasing.) There are also discounts for bookstores and libraries. The publication date was September 2022 but the play has been a DPS title since 2021.
Since its world premiere by Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Alabama Story has had more than 40 productions, including at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Repertory of St. Louis, Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre, Peninsula Players in Wisconsin, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre on Cape Cod, Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, City Lights Theatre in San Jose and beyond. In 2023, licenses are going out to Equity, amateur and schools theaters.
Here’s how Dramatists Play Service characterizes Alabama Story: “As the Civil Rights movement is brewing, a controversial children’s book about a black rabbit marrying a white rabbit stirs the passions of a segregationist State Senator and a no-nonsense State Librarian in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama. A contrasting story of childhood friends—an African American man and a woman of white privilege, reunited in adulthood—provides private counterpoint to the public events swirling in the state capital. Political foes, star-crossed lovers, and one feisty children’s author inhabit the same page in a Deep South of the imagination that brims with humor, heartbreak, and hope.”
With its focus on threats to the freedom to read in a time of social unrest, Alabama Story was celebrated this way by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “At a time when intolerance is on the upswing and empathy is under siege, Alabama Story is just the play we need. Jones brings an exuberant wit to this potentially preachy material.”
The Washington Post, covering the intimate staging by Washington Stage Guild, called it “an Alabama Story that has national relevance”: The play “feels timely, resonating with this era’s racial tensions, the ‘she persisted’ meme and continuing controversy over the Old South’s legacy. The topicality of Alabama Story infuses a theatrical moment that feels spontaneous yet intriguingly layered.”
The Cape Cod Times wrote, “Alabama Story artfully explores Southern attitudes when the civil rights movement is catching fire. Jones effectively unites the political and personal.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it “a disarmingly engaging drama…thoughtfully written… nuanced…well-layered.”
You can read a more complete history of the play here.
In the 2002-23 theater season, Kenneth Jones’ six-actor comedy Hollywood, Nebraska, is getting three world-premiere stagings. Learn more about its licensing life here.