Two-time Tony nominee Michael Arden (Once On This Island, Spring Awakening) will make his feature film debut directing The Book of Ruth, about devout Christian Ruth Coker Burks, a single mom in Arkansas who became an unlikely champion and caregiver for those with AIDS in the 1980s.
Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Constellations, King Lear) will play Ruth, with Matt Bomer (The Boys in the Band, The Normal Heart) as a gay New Yorker who returns to Arkansas after the death of his partner to AIDS.
Rebecca Pollock and Kas Graham (Betty Ford) penned the screenplay for the motion picture, which will be produced by Scott LaStaiti, Dominic Tighe, and Thomas Daley, and executive-produced by Cora Palfrey and Sarah Lebutsch.
Arden, who recently directed the Alliance Theatre’s American premiere of the new musical Maybe Happy Ending, told Deadline, “It’s a great honor and privilege to tell this important story about the responsibility one human has to another, especially in a time of crisis. As a gay man, I feel that Ruth’s story of empathy in the face of great prejudice and adversary is one so needed in our modern time.
“It is vital for us to remember that we lost an entire generation to the AIDS epidemic and that so many people, including Ruth, sacrificed their own comfort, station and livelihood to help those in need during this plague.”
The scores of lives lost to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s is also the subject of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, currently playing Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.