MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Shakespeare Festival's new production is all about racing, moonshine, and revenuers!
White Lightning is the a fictional account of Avery McAllister and his souped up 1939 ford, and how they make their way from the winding dirt backroads to the racing circuit of the South in the 1940s.
"I saw an interesting an interesting news story about the relationship between moonshiners and the early days of NASCAR," explains playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder about her inspiration for the script. "I always think that the most appealing stories and the most compelling stories are the smaller stories that sort of resonate in a larger context."
"It's a story of the south, by a southern writer, as a gift to the South," says Geoffrey Sherman, ASF's Artistic Director.
White Lightning is made up of 5 speaking characters, plus what Sherman calls a non-speaking character. The theatre bought a 1939 Ford on eBay, and its crew has been taking it apart, and reshaping it, to be re-built on the stage during the play.
That crew has affectionately named the car "Matilda".
"Matilda started off life as not quite the car you see now," Sherman says. "She wasn't quite the same shape, she had a whole lot of other things on her that are no longer on her. And she starts off in the play as a skeleton, and we slowly build her back."
Wilder says this topic wasn't completely foreign before she started working on this script. "I grew up in a family that was really interested in cars, so we were always going to antique car shows.
My dad and my grandfather would take me to races when I was a kid. So it felt very familiar. I think writing this story has made me feel a little closer to them."
Three of the most famous stock car drivers in history will be in the audience for the World Premier of White Lightning. Known as "The Alabama Gang", Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer helped put Alabama on the map in the world of motorsports in the late 1950s and 60s, and became legends not only in Alabama, but in the entire motorsports world.