|Director Kate Alexander|
Kate talked about the challenge of creating characters who are appealing in spite of their racism. "Bad guys don't come with pitchforks," she said. Veteran FST actor Andy Prosky, who plays Senator Higgins, is charged with the task of making his character likeable. Kate shared that finding the balance has taken its toll on Prosky, who became overcome with emotion during one of the rehearsals. (As a side note, Senator Eddins apparently did many good things for the State of Alabama, including being one of the state's biggest supporters of a strong--if segregated--library system. For this reason, Jones changed his name in the play to Higgins, although his identity is clear to people familiar with the controversy.)
The play's second story line flows from a chance encounter between Joshua Moore (played by Chris White) and Lily Whitfield (played by Rachel Moulton). When Joshua and Lily were children, Joshua's mother worked for the wealthy Whitfields. Housing was provided in an outbuilding across from the Whitfield family's "Big House." As adults, Lily and Joshua recall the building quite differently. To Lily, it was a "carriage house;" to Joshua, a "dogtrot." As kids, though, these differences were accepted and didn't prevent them from being friends.
One of the many benefits of taking the class is getting a copy of the script. This allows me to understand references that might otherwise pass me by in a single viewing of the play. For instance, Joshua makes a comment about using the Green Book while he travels. Like Lily, I'd never heard of this book, which, as Joshua explains, "tells colored folks where it's safe to eat and sleep when they're traveling." (The book is now extremely collectible. Last year, a 1941 edition sold for $22,500 at Swann Galleries in New York.) To read more about the Green Book, click here.
Throughout the season, Florida Studio Theatre has held a series of panel discussions entitled "Dialogues on Diversity." Three sessions will take place around the themes of "Alabama Story," including a talk about banned books and a panel about LGTB issues in which the playwright will participate. The sessions are free and open to the public. For information, click here.
"Alabama Story" will run at Florida Studio Theatre from April 6-May 28.