New play at ASF seeks to encourage debate

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A new production at the Alabama Shakespeare festival aims to spark debate about immigration and its role in the South.  The play "The Book Of" had its world premiere in Montgomery Thursday night.  It's based on the Old Testament Book of Ruth - but with a modern twist.

"The play seeks to answer the question: what if Ruth came to America today, and how would she be greeted," said John Walch, the playwright.  "And I think it presents all sides of the issue"

It centers on a soldier who comes home from Afghanistan to a small town in Mississippi.  Her Afghan translator comes with her as a refugee.  The reaction both women receive during in that town provides the central action for the play.

The ASF commissioned the play long before the immigration debates in Arizona and later here in Alabama.   But Geoffrey Sherman, ASF's producing artistic director, says the timing could not have been better.

"It is part of our brief as a regional theatre, as a theatre that exists in this particular city and in this particular state to try and bring up issues like this," Sherman said.

"When there's a synergy between current events and the play you're doing, it's very exciting," said Risa Branin, the production's director.  " It makes it so immediate for the audience, so yes, it's great to be working on that kind of a new play."

The play runs through January 22nd at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

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