Roanoke Times
Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out & About: The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill

By Mike Allen

Studio Roanoke's next play, "The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill," uses a historical lens and a slapstick approach to tackle some of today's most controversial issues.

The piece played in 2011 in Los Angeles, and the L.A. Times noted in a review that "playwright Jeff Goode has a knack for the outrageous," while L.A. Weekly asserts that the play "uses a 19th-century discussion over the imminent Emancipation Proclamation to draw parallels between slavery and homosexuality."

"The focus of Studio Roanoke is we're about good writing," said artistic director Melora Kordos. "Jeff Goode is such a master of writing about an issue or a topic yet never bringing it up in the play."

Goode wrote the play as a response to California's controversial Proposition 8 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, voted into effect in a 2008 referendum and overturned by a judge in 2010, though appeals are still pending.

The play features raunchy sexual humor, and a scene in which two men kiss.

"We're not doing it for shock value," Kordos said. "I know that it will be to some people controversial and some people will not like the content and others will."

It's not a family-friendly play, though teenagers could perhaps see it with adult guidance for the sake of discussing the issues it raises.

"It's a major topic of today," she said. "We leave it to the audience to take away how they feel, what they think."

Goode, based in Los Angeles, has worked with Studio Roanoke before. His play "Yes, Svetlana, There is a Grandfather Frost," a Christmas play set in the old Soviet Union, was performed in December 2009 and he directed the surreal comedy "Up from the Lunar Surface" in August 2010.


What: "The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill"

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 1-4; 2 p.m. Feb. 5; 8 p.m. Feb. 8 to 11; 2 p.m. Feb. 12.

Where: Studio Roanoke, 30 Campbell Ave., Roanoke

Tickets: $15, $20 at the door; senior citizens, students and active military, $12

Information: 343-3054 or