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Washington Stage Guild Presents Area Premiere of ALABAMA STORY


A true story of censorship and civil rights leaps from the pages of history and into its Washington, DC premiere in Washington Stage Guild's production of Kenneth Jones's new play, Alabama Story, March 22-April 15 at the Undercroft Theatre at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW.

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. Helen Hayes Award winner Kasi Campbell (Rep Stage's Arcadia, The Dazzle, The Whale) directs this highly theatrical play, nominated for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Play Award in 2016.

Area theatre favorite Julie-Ann Elliott (artistic associate at Olney Theatre Group and most recently seen at the Stage Guild in It's a Wonderful Life and In Praise of Love) portrays the librarian who awakes to a firestorm of controversy, facing off against Senator Higgins, portrayed by Steven Carpenter, lastseen in the Stage Guild's fall production of Widower's Houses. Helen Hayes Award winner Nigel Reed. Reed'sextensive credits range from more than 20 roles at Rep Stage to appearances at virtually every other theatre in the Baltimore-Washington area., appears as Garth Williams, the real-life author of "The Rabbits' Wedding. Rounding out the cast are Jenny Donovan and Gerrad Alex Taylor as young would-be friends struggling to cross the racial divide, and Christopher Herring (most recently seen in the Keegan Theatre's Unnecessary Farce)as Emily's assistant Thomas, who has a struggle no one else can share.

The innovative set, which transports the audience to various locales within the small Southern town, is designed by Kirk Kristlibas and Jingwei Dai. The period costumes are designed by Stacey Hamilton. Helen Hayes nominee Frank DiSalvo, Jr. provides the sound design, and the evocative lighting design is by Washington Stage Guild's Marianne Meadows.

"Our season's theme, 'facing facts,' concludes with a play that both recalls the harsh facts of the past and asks us to question whether those facts continue today," noted Bill Largess, Artistic Director. "The Washington area audiences will be especially engaged and intrigued as they watch politics, prejudice and free speech collide in this exhilarating new work." Adds director Campbell, "The moment I read this play I knew I wanted to bring it to our area. The play treats all six of these characters as full-blooded people engaged in a meaningful conflict. Playwright Jones gives us a story about how each of us has to question our beliefs and then have the courage to change, to adapt or to defend those beliefs with passion."

In conjunction with ALABAMA STORY, a play that deals with issues of censorship, civil rights, and political interference with local affairs, things Washingtonians have wrestled with for decades, we will present

March 29:
Post-show discussion with cast and creative team

March 31st:
Post-matinee program with ALABAMA STORY playwright Kenneth Jones, discussing Emily Wheelock Reed, the librarian at the heart of the play's battle. She later lived and worked in Washington, and that period of her life will be covered in more detail than in the play.

April 4:
Reading of MRS WARREN'S PROFESSION by George Bernard Shaw, a play that was censored and banned for decades after it was written.

April 8:
1st Amendment and Censorship post-show panel discussion with attorneys, librarians, and writers..

April 15:
Post-show discussion with cast and creative team

THE 1st AMENDMENT PROJECT is made possible with the support of the DC Commission on The Arts and Humanities

ALABAMA STORY by Kenneth Jones Directed by Kasi Campbell March 22 through April 15, 2018 Press Night: Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 8 pm

A librarian in segregation-era Alabama purchases a new childrens' book for the library, The Rabbits' Wedding. But the nature of the seemingly innocent wedding draws the attention of a grandstanding, intolerant state senator, who leads a crusade against it. When the librarian stands her ground, the attention of the country focuses on the unexpected battle. Based on a true story from the 50s, this is an area premiere.

Performance times and prices for all productions

  • Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm - $50.00
  • Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm - $60.00
  • Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm - $50.00

Discounts are available for senior citizens, students, and groups. Season passes are available, offering incredible savings for the entire Stage Guild season. Contact Us!

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