Birmingham Festival Theatre is pleased to announce its 2012-2013 season. These six plays continue a tradition uninterrupted since 1972. BFT is Birmingham’s oldest continuously operating theatre offering fare for thinking adults.
Conveniently located in Five Points South, BFT is within walking distance (one or two blocks) of a wide variety of restaurants - from the city’s finest dining to quick snacks - and clubs - from laid-back jazz to blaring rock to quiet conversation. Five Points is your park-once spot for an urban evening of dining, theatre, and drinks.
Black Pearl Sings! (September 13-29) The season begins with the Alabama premier of a Frank Higgins play based on the true story of Alan Lomax’s discovery of Huddie Ledbetter (known as Lead Belly) in the Angola Prison Farm (the Louisiana State Penitentiary). This play with music (mostly a capella performances of early versions of American folk music known in different forms today) tells the story of a white academic WPA employee and a black prisoner grappling with their exploitation by society. Donna Thornton and Nancy Malone, both Birmingham and BFT veterans, act and sing in this moving script. Playwright Frank Higgins will attend the opening night performance and reception as well as participate in a post- performance talk-back with the cast and audience following the second performance.
Love, Loss and What I Wore (November 1-17) The season’s second, even more estrogen-laced, production by Nora and Delia Ephron, is a study in modern American womanhood. The voice of recently deceased Nora can be heard in this script filled with clever, funny, and moving insights from her own life and many women she knew. Nora is best known for her screenplays including Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, and, most recently, Julie & Julia. In this production, eight actresses (Pam Elder, Lily Li, Julie Meadows, Dianne Mooney, Linda Neighbors, Jennifer Price, Ginger Sharbel, and Kristina Warren) bring to life nearly thirty women. Every woman will see herself in this show; every man needs to see it to better understand the women in his life.
Yankee Tavern (January 10-26) The third production, Steven Dietz’s cliff-hanger script, rings in the new year in a soon-to-close Manhattan bar. It is filled with mystery, conspiracy, and thrills. Just when you think you have heard every crazy 9/11 conspiracy theory, a stranger walks into the Yankee Tavern… You won’t know where you’re headed as you fall down the rabbit hole into an alternate universe, but you’ll walk out of the theatre better for the experience.
Red (March 7-23) The fourth production, John Logan’s Socratic dialogue is based on the life of artist Mark Rothko, and in particular his commission for a series of paintings for the Four Seasons restaurant. This work considers the meaning and importance of integrity, personal and artistic, and the forces that nibble away at it without us noticing. Two men, Rothko and his newly-hired assistant, struggle to understand and exemplify these values.
Beauty of the Father (April 25-May 11) The fifth production, Nilo Cruz’s romantic tale is set in an Andalusia, Spain, in which the ghost of deceased poet Federico Garcia Lorca still roams the streets. It is a love story with myriad connections and relationships. Is it a romantic triangle or rectangle? Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize winning Anna in the Tropics was staged in BFT’s 2010-11 season to great critical acclaim.
The Last Flapper (June 13-29) And the season closes with William Luce’s story of Montgomery’s Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’s last hours at a sanatorium in Asheville, North Carolina. Zelda claimed that much of the work on which F. Scott’s celebrity was based was stolen from her. And historians see substantial evidence to support this view. Zelda will be played by Melissa Cox Summey in this one-woman show as the clever, creative, troubled, and exciting flapper who typified an era.
BFT is pleased to join with others in Birmingham, Alabama, celebrating the city’s role in the struggle for the civil rights for all our citizens and looking forward to continuing that progress at an accelerating rate in the future. Though not scheduled as a part of the official 2013 City of Birmingham’s fiftieth anniversary celebration of the 1963 demonstrations that focused the world’s attention on America’s civil rights struggle, Black Pearl Sings! is a reminder of our history of racial and gender discrimination and the need for us to continue our efforts to end such.
Since 1972’s production of A Taste of Honey, a story of both racial and sexual preference bias, BFT has spoken up for the civil rights of all Americans. Included in the list of BFT shows addressing civil rights issues through the years are The Boys in the Band (1973), The Killing of Sister George (1975), The Shadow Box (1979), For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf (1980), The Blacks: A Clown Show (1984), March of the Falsettos (1984), Cloud Nine (1985), A Soldier’s Play (1987), My Children, My Africa! (1993), Purlie Victorious (1994), Ali (1995), The Last Night of Ballyhoo (1999), Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (2000), Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (2001), Spinning into Butter (2001), The Laramie Project (2002), Angels in America: Perestroika (2003), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2004), Take Me Out (2005), Voice of Good Hope (2006), I Am My Own Wife (2007), The Children’s Hour (2007), The White Rose (2008), Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens (2008), The Little Dog Laughed (2008), The Sunset Limited (2009), and The Last Hotel for Women (2012).
Birmingham Festival Theatre is located at 1901½ 11th Avenue South upstairs above the Golden Temple Café. The entrance is through an inviting courtyard on 19th Street at the rear of the building. Tickets for individual performances are $20 apiece ($10 for students). Season tickets (7 flexible vouchers for use at any combination of performances during the entire season) cost $99 and are on sale through September 30, 2012. Purchase season tickets online at www.BFTonline.org or by telephone at (205) 933-2383. Make performance reservations by phone at (205) 933-2383.