Alabama Story playwright Kenneth Jones sits down with Chris Searcy
Alabama Shakespeare Festival presents Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones on the Octagon Stage March 5 through March 22, 2020. Directed by ASF Artistic Director Rick Dildine, this production brings home a play that was inspired by true events from 1959 Montgomery and was created on this very soil. Rich with all the complexities of human nature, this tale from Alabama history remains stunningly relevant to today’s world.
At the center of the story is State Librarian Emily Wheelock Reed – a champion of intellectual freedom – and her stand against a segregationist state senator seeking to ban a gentle children’s book, in which a black rabbit marries a white rabbit. A parallel story unfolds between two young adults – an African-American man and a white woman – reunited after being torn apart as children.
In 2013, Jones spent time in residence at Alabama Shakespeare Festival workshopping the script as part of the Southern Writers Festival. Since then, Alabama Story has resonated across the nation as a reminder of the importance of the free flow of information and why protecting this constitutional right is healthy for citizens and society.
“I was so lucky that Alabama Story, a play set in Montgomery, got its first-ever reading in ASF’s 2013 Southern Writers Festival, where I was on the ASF campus revising and rewriting and soaking up the local history,” said Jones. “The play would go through further revisions as I learned more from its subsequent 30 productions around the nation. Its regional life represents a kind of preview period, leading to the definitive version of the script that I’m thrilled will finally play ASF in a full production. The Montgomery premiere of Alabama Story is a true homecoming!”
Longtime ASF company member and Associate Artistic Director Greta Lambert portrays Emily Wheelock Reed. She most recently appeared on stage in last season’s productions of BUZZ, Steel Magnolias, and Into the Breeches.
Christopher Gerson takes on the role of Senator Higgins. ASF audiences will recognize Chris from his performances in 2019’s BUZZ, Romeo & Juliet, and Our Town.
Last seen at ASF as Susan B. Anthony in The Agitators, Madeleine Lambert joins the cast as Lily Whitfield. Terrell Donnell Sledge, who participated as an actor in 2018’s Southern Writers Festival, appears as Joshua Moore.
Rounding out the cast and making their ASF debuts are Billy Hutto as Assistant Librarian Thomas Franklin and Alan Knoll as the illustrator of The Rabbits’ Wedding, Garth Williams.
The creative team includes Scenic/Lighting Designer Brian Sidney Bembridge, Sound Designer Melanie Chen Cole, Costume Designer Kathleen Geldard, Wig Master/Supervisor Angie Wright, Stage Manager Katie An Siegel, and Production Assistant Brendan Woods.
Alabama Story is recommended for ages 12 and up. Tickets start at $29. To purchase, call 334.271.5353, visit the ASF Box Office (open Monday – Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.), or go online: ASF.net/alastory. Evening performances begin at 7:00 p.m.; matinees start at 2:00 p.m.
ASF’s production of Alabama Story is made possible thanks to the support of the Alabama Tourism Department, Jere and Sara Beasley, and Dr. and Mrs. Eugene Stanaland.
– Perri Hubbard