A scene from Alabama Story, Kenneth Jones‘ fact-inspired play set in “the Deep South of the imagination,” is included in the annual collection “2015 The Best Men’s Stage Monologues,” published by Smith and Kraus. The book, released in August, features monologues from 62 plays by established and emerging dramatists.
“Here you will find a rich and varied selection of monologues for men from plays which were produced and/or published in the 2014-15 theatrical season,” editor Lawrence Harbison writes in the foreword. “Some are short, some are long. All represent the best in contemporary playwriting.” Get the book at Amazon.com.
Alabama Story had its world premiere in January 2015 at Pioneer Theatre Company, the major resident Equity theatre in Salt Lake City. It became the top-grossing new play in the 50-year history of the company. It was developed in separate reading series of three companies: Alabama Shakespeare Festival, TACT/The Actors Company Theatre and Pioneer Theatre Company. It will have its second Equity regional production in spring 2016 at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL.
The six-actor play rips pages out of history and children’s literature. Based on real incidents, Alabama Story play tells of the State Librarian of Alabama, Emily Reed, defending herself and her book collection from the criticism of a racist State Senator, E.W. Higgins, who wants her to pull a children’s book from the shelves. The book, “The Rabbits’ Wedding” by Garth Williams, is about a black rabbit that marries a white rabbit in a moonlit ceremony in a meadow.
The monologue included in “2015 The Best Men’s Stage Monologues” is Garth Williams’ seriocomic public statement about the book that he wrote and illustrated. (Williams is the illustrator of “Little House On the Prairie,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little” and more.)
Audio of that monologue (as well other scenes featuring the original cast, with comments by the playwright and director) is heard in a 50-minute NPR broadcast from the Salt Lake City “Radio West” program that aired in early 2015. It’s now available as a podcast.
Stephen D’Ambrose created the role of Garth, who serves as a narrator of the play and steps into various roles along the way, making the experience a highly theatrical — echoing a children’s pop-up book or read-aloud storytelling. Karen Azenberg, artistic director of Pioneer Theatre Company, directed the world premiere.
The book features an eclectic list of dramatists, including Lee Blessing, Terrence McNally, David Auburn, Donald Margulies, Sam Shepard, Theresa Rebeck, Laura Eason, Don Nigro, Anna Ziegler, Mark Roberts, Seth Bockley, Carlos Murillo, Maggie Cino, Bob Clyman, Mark Chrisler, Nicky Silver, Samuel D. Hunter, Halley Feiffer, Kim Davies, Tom Dulack, Carla Ching, Zayd Dohrn, Adam Rapp, Lauren Gunderson and many more.
There’s also a sister book on shelves: “2015 The Best Women’s Stage Monologues,” also edited by Lawrence Harbison.