Immigration and its powerful political and personal impact on an Army veteran and an Afghan refugee take center stage in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival's world premiere of John Walch's incendiary In the Book Of… January 5-22. The play will be performed at ASF's intimate 263-seat Octagon stage. Tickets start at $30 and may be purchased by calling 1.800.841.4293, online at www.asf.net or by visiting the ASF box office at 1 Festival Drive. ASF is located in the heart of Montgomery's beautiful Blount Cultural Park.
In the Book Of… is a powerful play inspired by The Book of Ruth, where two women-Naomi, an Army lieutenant and Anisah, her Afghan translator-lose their husbands in the war. Upon discharge, the young officer sees the danger her translator is in, and brings Anisah with her to her home in Mississippi. When they arrive, this act of kindness is met with open hostility by Naomi's sister-in-law, Gail, who is running for mayor on an immigration platform similar to HB56, and makes the immigrant's deportment the focus of her campaign. But things get complicated when her own son stands up for what he thinks is right. Family, friendship, faith and the American Way are all tested in this funny, touching and timeless story adapted from the Old Testament.
ASF's producing artistic director Geoffrey Sherman commissioned John Walch to write In the Book Of… for the festival's prestigious Southern Writers' Project. At its initial reading in May 2011, In the Book Of… left an audience of theatre professionals and avid theatregoers awestruck.
John Walch, who is also ASF's playwright-in-residence, has won multiple awards for his work including a Kennedy Center Fund for New Plays Award, the James Michener Fellowship, the Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association and three Austin Critics Table Awards. Walch's best known works include The Dinosaur Within, Jesting with Edged Tools, Craving Gravy and Circumference of a Squirrel. A second commission from ASF, a musical entitled DoubleTime with music by the legendary Nile Rodgers, is currently in development.
In the Book Of… features Sarah Corey, Matt Dickson, Christopher Gerson, Rachel Leslie and Blair Sams. Corey performed in the Southern Writers' Project workshop; the rest of the cast will be making their ASF debuts.
The play is directed by Risa Brainin. Others on the creative team include Peter Hicks (Scenic Design), Elizabeth Novak (Costume Design), Tom Rodman (Lighting Design), Richelle Thompson (Sound Design), John Manfredi (Fight Director) and Susan Willis (Dramaturg). Betsy Ayer will be the stage manager.