TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s department of theatre and dance has partnered with the English department to present “Our Tuscaloosa,” a series of three plays that tell the stories of important events in Alabama’s history in celebration of the state’s bicentennial.
The plays, which are free, are geared toward elementary school students in Tuscaloosa and will be performed April 21 and April 28 at the Tuscaloosa Public Library at 10 a.m.
“This is a project that’s intended to introduce local students to Alabama history and culture in a creative way, using art, history and theatre to create a backdrop by which students can learn about Alabama history,” said Clifton Baker, education and outreach manager for the theatre and dance department.
Baker said one of the plays is about William Grancer Harrison, who is sometimes referred to as the Dancing Ghost. He is one of the “Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey,” a popular book that tells the tales of famous Alabama ghosts.
The other two plays are on Bloody Tuesday, which is a civil rights protest that took place in Tuscaloosa, and “Alabama Montage,” which is a compilation of vignettes on Alabama history such as the story of the first-ever 911 call in Haleyville and Sylacauga-native Ann Hodges.
Hodges is the only known person in history to have been hit by a meteorite. The meteorite is now housed in UA’s Smith Hall.
Each play is 15-25 minutes long.
Baker said UA creative writing students wrote the plays, and undergraduate acting students are performing them.
“These plays are referred to as the live exhibits, and they’re intentionally very low cost,” he said. “Each has five actors and a trunk. Anything and everything we need for the play goes into a trunk so it can be performed anywhere for a wide variety of people.
“The plays are highly theatrical and geared toward elementary school students, but audience members of all ages can learn something about the state.”
Anne Levy, assistant professor of theatre and head of UA’s theatre and dance MFA directing program, directed the plays. She said a former graduate art management student, Morgan Ozenbaugh, who was also interested in education, created the project.
They received an Alabama Humanities Foundation grant to fund the project.
“All three plays are world premiers, and the hope is to continue presenting them for the full year of the bicentennial celebration,” she said.
Moundville Archaeological Park, the Tuscaloosa Historical Society and UA Museums also collaborated on the project.