Original Works from Three Playwrights Reflect the Southern Experience
MONTGOMERY, Ala., (July 8, 2022) — Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writers Festival of New Plays returns to the State’s Theatre on July 16.
The festival will feature readings of three new works — Kudzu Calling by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Trouble at the Vista View Mobile Home Estates by Audrey Cefaly and Zelda in the Backyard by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder.
The focus of SWF is to commission, develop and produce pieces written by Southern writers or works depicting life in the American South. Since 1991, the initiative has helped develop more than 100 new plays, many of which have gone on to multiple productions across the country.
This year’s playwrights, all originating from the South, were selected for the unique lens by which they view the world, their life experiences influencing the works they write.
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, a native of Alabama, returns to ASF with Zelda in the Backyard, a one-woman autobiographical look at Elyzabeth’s childhood and her relationship with her father. Wilder’s original works White Lightning and Gee’s Bend have been produced at ASF.
Pulitzer Prize nominee Audrey Cefaly, also an Alabama native, turned her popular one-act Fin & Euba into a full-length play titled Trouble at the Vista View Mobile Home Estates. The story follows the late-night front porch conversation between two women who are factory workers dreaming of a better life.
Donnetta Lavinia Grays will present Kudzu Calling, a play commissioned by ASF, with themes surrounding Black queer love in the South. During the pandemic, Grays’ work “Sweet” was performed as a part of “22 Homes,” ASF’s virtual festival of monologues by Southern writers.
ASF Artistic Director Rick Dildine said the works are specific to and reflective of the region’s diversity yesterday, today and tomorrow.
“We give voice to the communities of people who have called the South home for hundreds of years,” said Dildine, “by telling the stories of our people and dramatizing our shared histories and unique narratives.”
Professional actors will perform all readings. Each playwright spends a week rehearsing and refining the work with a director and cast before sharing their process with a live audience.
“Each year, we hear from playwrights about how developing their work with our Southern audiences enriches their writing in exciting ways,” Dildine said.
Readings are divided into two sessions this year. Reading Session 1 begins at 11:00 a.m.with Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ Kudzu Calling, followed by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s Zelda in the Backyard. After a lunch break, Reading Session 2 starts at 2:30 p.m.with Audrey Cefaly’s Trouble at the Vista View Mobile Home Estates.
A Festival pass includes tickets to both reading sessions and lunch for $50. Tickets to individual reading sessions are also available to purchase — Reading Session 1 is $20 and Reading Session 2 is $15. Student tickets to reading sessions are $10 (with valid student ID) at the box office on July 16.
For information and tickets, call 334-271-5353, visit the ASF Box Office (Monday – Saturday, doors open at noon), or buy online at ASF.net