Artwork for the Lamb Theatre's Iowa premiere of "Alabama Story."

Artwork for the Lamb Theatre’s Iowa premiere of “Alabama Story.”

Lamb Theatre, the major non-Equity professional theatre in western Iowa, will launch its 38th season in fall 2017 with the state premiere of Alabama Story, the fact-inspired play about censorship, civil rights and children’s literature. The production will coincide with the nationally recognized Banned Books Week, an apt scheduling choice since the play by Kenneth Jones spins around the banning of a children’s picture book that causes controversy in the Deep South in 1959.

Exact dates of the September-October 2017 run at Lamb Theatre — officially called Lamb Arts Regional Theatre — will be announced in May. It will play the company’s mainstage series in Sioux City, IA. Banned Books Week 2017, sponsored by the American Library Association and other groups to shed light on banned and challenged books, is Sept. 24-30.

The cover of Garth Williams' "The Rabbits' Wedding." (HarperCollinsChildrens.com)

The cover of Garth Williams’ “The Rabbits’ Wedding.” (HarperCollinsChildrens.com)

In Alabama Story, a children’s picture book called “The Rabbits’ Wedding” stirs the passion of a segregationist politician who does not appreciate its content. Illustrator Garth Williams (“Little House on the Prairie,” “Charlotte’s Web”) fashioned a story about a black rabbit who marries a white rabbit. State senator E.W. Higgins views the book as pro-integration and insists that the state librarian remove the book from her shelves. Their conflict over the freedom to read would make international headlines.

Garth Williams himself becomes a character in the six-actor drama set in “the Deep South of the imagination.” A parallel story set in the same year charts the reunion of former childhood friends — an African-American man and a white woman — who meet in adulthood to unpack a painful event from their past.

The story of "The Rabbits' Wedding" controversy made international headlines in 1959.

The story of “The Rabbits’ Wedding” controversy made international headlines in 1959.

Alabama Story — a humor-laced social-justice drama that’s a vest-pocket cousin to “To Kill a Mockingbird” — was a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and a 2014 Finalist in the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. The play had its world premiere in 2015 under the direction of Karen Azenberg at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT. It had five regional productions in 2016.

Theatres and producers may request a perusal copy of the play here.

Read more about the play’s history.

At least five more regional productions will be announced for the 2017-18 season, including its Tennessee premiere at the Clarence Brown Theatre. The Deep South and New England will also see the play in the coming year.

Read the American Theatre magazine feature about the play.

Complete information about the 2017-18 season at Lamb Theatre will be available in May at the company’s website.

In addition to western Iowa, the Lamb troupe under the leadership of CEO Diana Guhin Wooley and artistic director and managing director Russell Wooley, draws audiences from Nebraska and South Dakota.

 

 

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