Racial Tensions & Censorship Collide in “Alabama Story” January 21-February 6

A gentle children’s book with a supposed hidden message—a black rabbit marries a white rabbit—stirs the passions of a segregationist state senator and a no-nonsense librarian in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama, in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s upcoming production of Kenneth Jones’ ALABAMA STORY. The show opens Friday, January 21, and runs through Sunday, February 6.

Inspired by real events, ALABAMA STORY is a relatively new play that is gaining momentum around the U.S. A New York City-based playwright, Jones premiered the play in 2015 and the work has been staged in 40 cities since. The CTC will host a Zoom chat with Jones on Tuesday, January 25, at 7:30 p.m.

Exploring tests of character in a time of social turbulence, the play tells the tale of a bullying but complex senator who wants a controversial children’s book, which he is convinced promotes racial integration and interracial marriage, taken off all Alabama library shelves. A fearless state librarian staunchly defends the picture book and refuses, putting both their worlds at risk.

The book in question is Garth Williams’ The Rabbits’ Wedding, published in 1958. Both an author and an illustrator, Williams was celebrated for his illustrations of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series.

As the play develops, another story of childhood friends—an African-American man and a white woman, reunited in adulthood that same year—provides private counterpoint to the public events swirling in the state capital.

Political foes, star-crossed lovers, racial tensions, and issues of censorship inhabit the same stage in this play brimming with humor, humanity, heartbreak, and hope.

Under the helm of guest director Beth Gumnick, the cast features Landon Carpenter, Magge Hudgins, Christiana Key, James Lawson, Ramses McKinstry, and Greg Rambin. Juleen Collins is the stage manager.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m., and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

The play will be presented in the Circle Theatre, where capacity will be limited to 75 percent. Audience members must present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours at the time of arrival. Seating is socially distanced, and face masks are required.

For tickets, call the CTC box office at 423-267-8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.

CLICK HERE to read about the real woman and the playwright’s inspiration for ALABAMA STORY.

Posted January 6, 2022