By Special to the Daily World
In February, the Center for Puppetry Arts brings to the stage an acclaimed story from local author Calvin Alexander Ramsey. “Ruth and the Green Book” follows the journey of an African-American family from Chicago to Alabama in the 1950s.
This fresh perspective on the struggle for equality offers a new way to celebrate Black History Month and learn about a relatively unknown chapter in civil rights history. Performances will be Feb. 7-26.
“Ruth and the Green Book” tells the story of Ruth and her family as they travel through the Jim Crow-era South. After being turned away from a gas station and a hotel, eight-year-old Ruth and her parents discover “The Green Book,” a travel guide for Black motorists. This pivotal publication was conceived as a response to the humiliation and violence experienced by many African Americans traveling throughout the United States. With this guide, Ruth’s family, like many others, find safe routes to welcoming places and people.
“Ruth and the Green Book” is based on an award-winning children’s story by author and Atlanta resident Calvin Alexander Ramsey with illustrations by Floyd Cooper.
It has been adapted for the puppet stage by Center for Puppetry Arts Artistic Director Jon Ludwig with original music by S. Renee Clark.
Using an innovative combination of puppetry and animated projections inspired by the book’s evocative illustrations, this collaboration celebrates a historic publication that helped many families learn where they would be welcome so that they could travel safely. As part of the Teen & Adult performance series, “Ruth and the Green Book” is recommended for ages nine and up.
Author Calvin A. Ramsey wrote “Ruth and the Green Book” to share the history of this important social document with others. “When I talk to young people at schools, I often ask them about the Underground Railroad, which most have studied,” commented author Calvin A. Ramsey. “But this period right after Reconstruction, the Jim Crow Era, they know little about it or how hard it was to travel during it. “Ruth and the Green Book” shines a light on this very important, yet little discussed, point of our history. It’s pretty recent history, when you think about it.” With this theatrical adaptation, Ramsey hopes to reach even more audiences.
“We’re thrilled to give this story new life,” said Ludwig. “The Center for Puppetry Arts has a strong record of celebrating diversity and offering fun ways to learn about history, each other and ourselves. In ‘Ruth and the Green Book’ we invite audiences to join us on this journey of discovery and the struggle to equality.”
“Ruth and the Green Book” will be presented in the Downstairs Theater Feb. 7-26. For show times Tuesday through Sunday, call the ticket sales office at 404-873-3391.
As part of the Center’s Teen & Adult Workshops and Lectures series, Ramsey will host a meet-and-greet event, discussion and book signing after the evening performance on Saturday, Feb. 11. Additionally, artists will host talkbacks with the audience following each performance.