Opening Off-Broadway

Written by nrominger on October 23rd, 2013
Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Ali Said

Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Ali Said

Kudos to SWP playwright Lucile Lichtblau (Hemings Diary).  Her “intimate portrait of passion, betrayal and international espionage,” The English Bride, opens this evening for its New York premiere at 59E59 Theatres.  The English Bride was inspired by a real-life, failed bombing attempt on an El Al fight out of London in 1986.  Lucile has managed to craft a compelling mystery centered around an interrogation of an Englishwoman and the Arab man with whom she has fallen in love.

If you live in NYC or are traveling there, you won’t want to miss this premiere.  For more information about The English Bride go to .  The Southern Writers’ Project wishes the best to this gifted playwright.

Alabama Story at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Written by Sara Beth on May 11th, 2013


We had a wonderful final rehearsal for Alabama Story today.  I can safely say that this was one of the most exciting weeks that I have experienced here at ASF.  With so many wonderful artist collaborating and helping to get these plays and stories told for the first time I was reminded of why fell in love with theater.  A play starts its life as a spark of inspiration in a playwright’s mind, but it take dozens of talented individuals to bring it life, and that is exactly what I have witnessed this week at ASF.  We hope you will come check out Alabama Story this Sunday at 10:00 AM at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Chris Pappas

Round One of Michael Vigilant’s The Wedding Ring

Written by Sara Beth on May 10th, 2013
James Staudt shared his impressions from this week’s rehearsals of Michael Vigilant’s new play, The Wedding Ring.  This is a musical reading you won’t want to miss – Saturday, May 11th at 4 p.m.  Be sure to catch Michael discussing his creative process in a Black Swan talk prior to the show at 3:15.

Today we all met to for our first rehearsal for Michael Vigilant’s original musical The Wedding Ring! For the reading, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival has assembled an exceptional cast of musical actors including: Scott Mikita, Jordan Caughtry, Alice Sherman, Michelle Geisler, Logan James Hall, and Jim Staudt. Since we have such a short rehearsal period, 7 rehearsal days, the cast entered with knowledge of and opinions about the script so that they can make informed criticisms and suggestions to the playwright, Mr. Vigilant. For the members of the cast that were new to the ASF season, it took no time at all for them to show their remarkable talent and ability both textually and musically. We are off to a great start!


Today was a day that focused on cementing the work we did on the music on May 3rd and also giving honest feedback to the playwright. Work shopping a creative work always has the potential to become something negative if you have the wrong group of people collaborating with each other, but the cast has been exceptionally constructive with their feedback and Mr. Vigilant is gladly and enthusiastically hearing others’ opinions. A creative work is extremely personal and almost always tremendously important to the one who created it. It can be very difficult to hear a group of people talk about it critically, but Mr. Vigilant clearly knows the value of the workshop process and is making the most of our brief time together. Who knows what could change int he coming days?


Equity day off! Better look over some music. . .

Michael took the time over the weekend and came in today with a bunch of changes that have drastically improved the show. Characters are becoming more developed, their relationships mean more, and the cast is showing an ever-growing command of the material. There is still plenty to do, but already the show has grown and it is amazing to think about how different it was just a few days ago. It is fascinating to work on something one day and then have it be profoundly different the next. There is a lot of creativity happening in Studio A at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and we can’t wait to give this show to our patrons!


An SWP script is never set in stone…

Written by Sara Beth on May 8th, 2013

Have you ever wondered how fluid a script can be during SWP week?  The answer is…very.  A lot of the script can change during the rehearsal process as the actors, director and dramaturge engage directly with the playwright in regards to developing the characters and their experience of the arc of the story.  Actor Jason Martin shares from today’s rehearsal of Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s Provenance:

  “Our second day of Provenance rehearsals began with a rewrite of Act 1.  The playwright, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, shared an intimate look with us at her first draft notes and a window into her process of revision.  Wilder hand writes all notes then transfers them onto each page for visual reference as she revisits her digital copy page by page.  Day 3 promises updates and revisions for Act 2 culminating in a completely new draft before Friday’s 4pm performance!”

Don’t miss Elyzabeth at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, May 10 in the Black Swan where she’ll talk about her creative process prior to the performance of Provenance. (Even better–reserve a spot at the SWP dinner reception afterwards by calling Stan Thomas at 334.271-5330–and spend some time with the actors, directors and playwrights that make SWP possible!)


It’s SWP Week! We’re rehearsing Kenneth Jones’ new play, Alabama Story

Written by Sara Beth on May 8th, 2013

Today the cast of Alabama Story had an exciting conversation about their characters motivations lead by our director Karen Azenberg and dramaturge Robert Neblett.  The cast and creative team delved deep into how people were able to access news and information during this time of history.  It is hard to imagine now in the world of several 24 hour news channels, that there was time that there were only three channels, and that only the richest families in America would be able to afford a television.  We also discussed how the characters in the play have a variety of world views, and that Emily Reed’s determination to make sure that everyone in the state of Alabama had access to all sides of the story, while to our modern eyes and ears might seem like the obvious choice of action, for a woman in the 1950s was not only courageous but extremely dangerous.  The stakes in the play are rising higher and higher with every new rewrite we receive from our diligent playwright Ken Jones, and we can’t wait to see what he will have for us tomorrow.

Chris Pappas

Art in the Garden

Written by cecelia on May 19th, 2012

The interns at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival read the three plays that won the Youth Southern Writers’ Project.

The plays that were read in the garden next to the Festival on a beautiful sunny afternoon were: Light in My Darkness by Shejuti Paul, Jenny by Ivy Kilpatrick and Solitude by Gabrielle Lindley.

There is still time to buy tickets to CYCLOPS: A Rock Opera which is this evening at 11 p.m. And don’t forget tomorrow’s final production in the Festival of Plays for the Southern Writers’ Workshop, Concessions by Brian Richard Mori.

Sparks fly when the lives of three married couples become entangled in this hilarious,sexy comedy of outrageous infidelity and revenge. As the 2000 Presidential election results unfold, so do the laughs. Did the Russians really fix the 1984 Olympics? IsGuam even a state? And who the heck has won Florida? Come see this side-splitting comedy which asks the question: can love survive its toughest opponent – marriage?

The play begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Octagon Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can still be purchased at the door.

Youth and intrigue

Written by cecelia on May 19th, 2012


Ginneh Thomas as Sally Hemings and Jack Koenig as Thomas Jefferson rehearse 'The Hemings Diary.'

The winners of the Young Southern Writers’ Project will have their plays presented this afternoon at 1 p.m. in the Garden.

The skill in writing and creating complex characters will amaze you and wish you’d paid more attention in high school English class.

But if you can’t make that, head on out to the reading of The Hemings Diary by Lucile Lichtblau at 3:30 p.m. in the Octagon Theatre.

In the play, Monica, a down on her luck antiques collector, uncovers the diary of Thomas Jefferson’s slave and mistress, Sally Hemings. But is the diary real?

It’s the DaVinci Code meets 1776 American history. It’s got all the good stuff – forbidden love, revelations, personal struggle – everything that makes for good drama.

You can still come out. Tickets are $10.

‘No Mercy’ on the ‘Chat & Chew’

Written by cecelia on May 18th, 2012

Connell Brown enjoys tomato pie, corn bread, salad and asparagus cooked by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder during 'The Chat & Chew Supper Club," Friday, May 18, 2012.

Actor Connell Brown was fortunate to partake in the delicious food cooked by Elyzabeth Gergory Wilder during the show The Chat & Chew Supper Club on Friday. Wilder closed the show by having audience member share their favorite food memory or favorite family tradition.

Brown will be one of the actors starring in No Mercy: Deconstruction Part One tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10 a.m. You can still buy tickets for No Mercy or any of the other shows (The Hemmings Diary, Concessions and CYCLOPS: A Rock Opera). For tickets, visit or call (334) 271-5353 or 1-(800) 841-4273.

The Festival of Plays are about to begin!

Written by cecelia on May 18th, 2012

'The Chat & Chew Supper Club' will kickoff the start of the Southern Writers' Project Festival of Plays.

The Southern Writers’ Project 2012 Festival of Plays will begin in just a little more than an hour at 4 p.m. with The Chat and Chew Supper Club by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder.

Audience members will get to sample some of Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder's 'Chat & Chew Supper Club.'

The autobiographical play features Ms. Wilder performing while making a home-cooked Southern meal. Some lucky audience members will sit at tables on stage and be fortunate to sample her delicious creations. (Tomato pie, cornbread, asparagus….oh, so very, very good.)

The other plays that will be featured during the festival on Saturday are No Mercy: Deconstruction Part One by James Bowen at 10 a.m. and The Hemmings Diary by Lucile Lichtblau at 3:30 p.m. All plays will be in the Octagon Theater in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

If you’re anywhere near Montgomery this weekend, come on out and watch the readings of these plays. It’s a great opportunity to see how a play is developed as it’s read by professional actors – and on Saturday, the audience will be able to give feedback.

Tickets are $10 for each performance at the box office, (334) 271-5353 or 1-(800) 841-4273.

Oh, and if you want to see something completely different and fun, try CYCLOPS: A Rock Opera. It’s a musical based the Athenian satyr play by Euripides. Musical – no rock opera! Think Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s glam rock at its best. Tickets are $25 and will be available until just before the performance at 11 p.m.

And if you’re around the Festival and you’re on Twitter, use the #SWPfest to let us know how you like it. You can find us at @SouthernWriters – and of course find us on Facebook.

For a full schedule of events, click here.

The Lobby Project

Written by Sara Beth on May 17th, 2011

The Lobby Project gives visitors insight into the process of the evolution of a script – from the germ of the idea through SWP to being fully produced, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the SWP. A play can go through many rewrites (even more than 70) and readings, with dozen of actors, directors, dramaturgs, and behind-the-scenes artists bringing the production to life for the audience to enjoy a night at the theater. The exhibit includes information about the scenery, costumes, historical timelines and videos throughout the lobby of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.