“Dynamic! Rich! Impressive! Cleverly crafted! Articulate! Razor-sharp!”Salt Lake Tribune
Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones had its world premiere Jan. 9-24, 2015, at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT. Artistic director Karen Azenberg directed the production, which earned rave reviews, standing ovations and became the highest grossing original new play in the company’s history. Its second production, at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, sold the most spring-season single tickets of any play in the company’s history.
In the fact-inspired six-actor Alabama Story, a gentle children’s book with an apparent hidden message stirs the passions of a segregationist State Senator and a no-nonsense State Librarian in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama, just as the civil rights movement is flowering. Alabama Story puts political foes, star-crossed childhood friends, and one feisty children’s author on the same page to conjure a Deep South of the Imagination. This love letter to reading — a finalist in the 2014 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award — leaps from the pages of history, exploring censorship, civil rights and tests of character in times of change.
Alabama Story enjoyed five regional productions in 2016, in Cape Cod, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, and at least five more are scheduled for the 2017-18 season.
“Kenneth Jones’ cleverly crafted play making its world premiere at Pioneer Theatre Company…ends as it begins with the characters asking, ‘Tell me a story,’ and the unifying strand is the way stories — real and fictional — shape our lives. As the first of Pioneer Theatre Company’s newly instated Play-by-Play reading series to receive a full production, Alabama Story marks an impressive debut. Its ability to dramatically merge history and personal stories promises it a life far beyond this production.”Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2015
“A real-life controversy about a children’s book from 1959 is the basis for a new play with freshly relevant themes.”American Theatre, January 16, 2015
“Each character in emerging playwright Kenneth Jones’ finely crafted new play leads to a rich theater experience that is being warmly received in its premiere staging.”Deseret News, January 12, 2015
“Razor-sharp direction.”Salt Lake Tribune
“”A beautiful production full of warmth and endearing moments that will be deeply appreciated.”Deseret News
Alabama Story was a finalist in the 2014 National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. Kenneth Jones’ new play Two Henrys was a semi-finalist in the 2015 and 2016 National Playwrights Conferences.
Under the direction of Karen Azenberg, Alabama Story was developed in readings in the Southern Writers’ Project of Alabama Shakespeare Festival (May 2013), Play-By-Play New Reading Festival at Pioneer Theatre Company (April 2013) and NewTACTics New Readings Festival by TACT/The Actors Company Theatre (June 2014).