Four Plays Find Voice in Southern Writers' Project in Alabama May 14-16

News   Four Plays Find Voice in Southern Writers' Project in Alabama May 14-16
Plays that are "Southern in theme or authorship" get a spotlight May 14-16 in Alabama Shakespeare Festival's 2010 Southern Writers' Project Festival of New Plays.

The festival will feature readings of two plays that will receive their world premieres at ASF, in Montgomery, AL, during the 2010-11 season: The Flagmaker of Market Street by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and Blood Divided by Jeffry L. Chastang. Two other plays in their early stages of development — Look Away by Robert Ford and In the Book of by ASF playwright-in-residence John Walch — are also part of the SWP Weekend.

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The Flagmaker of Market Street and Blood Divided were commissioned by ASF with the support of the Alabama Tourism Department. The plays are being developed and produced as part of the commemoration of the Civil War's sesquicentennial in 2011. Both plays, which are based on real people and events, were workshopped and read during the 2009 SWP Festival and have continued in the developmental process since that time.

Here's show ASF characterizes the new works: The Flagmaker of Market Street, according to ASF, "follows Montgomery store-owner George Cowles as he walks a fine line catering to the Confederacy while holding secret Unionist meetings in his back room. Cautious of the increasingly incendiary climate and fearful for his family and business, George is careful not to take any risks. But when George is asked to create the first Confederate flag and enlists the help of his slave Mae, he unwittingly exposes her to danger — and has to make a choice between upholding his convictions or living a lie."

In Blood Divided (formerly titled A Panoramic View), "15-year old Willie Baldwin, enchanted by the passionate rhetoric of the ardent secessionist William Lowndes Yancey, is increasingly disgusted by his father's more moderate views. As tension grows between Willie, his family and longtime friend and freedman James Hale, Willie's rash behavior has unforeseen consequences resulting in tragedy and ultimately, redemption."

In the Book of "is a contemporary reimagining of The Book of Ruth, in which Naomi and Anisah both are reeling from the loss of their husbands in Afghanistan. Naomi, a U.S. Army Lieutenant stationed near Kabul is discharged and prepares to return home, when Anisah, her Afghan translator, asks to come home with her. This simple leap of faith brings Anisah and Naomi to the fictional town of Broxton, Mississippi, where love and tolerance struggle to overcome hatred and fear as the two try to rebuild their lives."

Robert Ford's Look Away "is set in 1930s rural Arkansas, where two black boys, Matty and Alonzo, are accused of rape and on the run from a posse. They seek refuge at the Wilson plantation where Matty grew up, hoping that Roy Wilson will stand up and defend them. Prejudice wars with family loyalties, childhood friendship and love in this provocative new drama by Robert Ford."

Fort the SWP weekend, each of the four plays has a specially picked director, dramaturg and actors "to maximize the growth of the play during the week of rehearsals prior to the public concert reading."

The Southern Writers' Project has spawned over 20 world premieres in its 19-year history.

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