Staged Reading of “Alabama Story” by Kenneth Jones and Playwright Talkback
This reading is part of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library’s week of programming dedicated to “Banned Books.” This play reading will include professional actors, Butler Theatre students and faculty and community-members in its cast and will be directed by Courtney Mohler, faculty in the Department of Theatre.
Alabama Story, playwright Kenneth Jones’ new six-actor play inspired by real events that touch on Civil Rights and censorship issues in “the Deep South of the imagination,” had its world premiere in January 2015 by Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT. By spring 2019, the highly theatrical play will have been produced in at least 20 cities since its premiere, introducing the world to the little-known true story of a librarian named Emily Reed, who was persecuted by politicians for protecting a children’s picture book in the Jim Crow South.
In the two-act Alabama Story, a gentle children’s book with an apparent hidden message — a black rabbit marries a white rabbit! — stirs the passions of a segregationist State Senator and a no-nonsense State Librarian in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama, just as the civil rights movement is flowering. Another story of childhood friends — an African-American man and a white woman, reunited in adulthood in Montgomery that same year — provides private counterpoint to the public events of the play. Political foes, star-crossed lovers, and one feisty children’s author inhabit the same page to conjure a Deep South of the imagination.