April 26-29—RUTLAND—The award winning and gripping drama “Alabama Story” by Kenneth Jones will be presented by Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre on April 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and April 29 at 2 p.m.; then again May 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. All performances take place in the Brick Box at the Paramount Theatre. The play was a finalist in the 2014 National Playwrights’ Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. Since its world premiere in 2015, “Alabama Story” has been seen across the country and will have at least six regional productions, including the Vermont premiere.
The play is based on the book “The Rabbit’s Wedding” by Garth Williams. “The Rabbit’s Wedding” became the center of controversy in 1959 between Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Service Division (also a resident of Newfane, Vt.) and the enraged Alabama segregationists, who wanted it banned. In the play “Alabama Story,” the theme of racial equality and freedom to read seems timeless, even though the incident had taken place in the late 1950s. In 1959, the American Library Association in Chicago suggested reading list included “The Rabbit’s Wedding” by Garth Williams. Williams was a modern classicist and illustrated other well-known books such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “Anne of Green Gables.”
The book describes a moonlit wedding between a black rabbit and a white rabbit surrounded by their woodland friends. The book’s intended audience was children aged 3-7 years old. The segregationists saw it as promoting interracial marriage. Reed eventually won her fight against Senator E.O. Eddins of Marengo County, who led the challenge against William’s book, urged on by the White Citizen’s Council and their newspaper, “The Montgomery Home News.”
Director Gary Meitrott said, “I’m pleased and honored to be directing this play. Especially in this particular cultural and political climate, we all need to be reminded freedom isn’t automatic for everyone. The struggle for civil rights continues on. ‘Alabama story,’ is an example of how one brave woman made a difference in her struggle to protect other people’s rights as equal human beings.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Paramount Box Office, at the door or prior to the performance or online at paramountvt.org. The Brick Box and Paramount Theatre are located at 30 Center St., Rutland.