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Hazard County

a World Premiere
by Allison Moore

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 1284

SHOWING : June 02, 2005 - July 24, 2005



A Three-Way World Premiere with Actor’s Theatre of Louisville and Kitchen Dog Theatre of Dallas!

In Hazard County Ruth is losing everything - her home and her family’s business, and her two 8 year-old twins are sleeping on her cousin’s floor. Why won’t she use the $100K Memorial Fund that was created for the twins when her husband was murdered? Enter Blake, a Hollywood TV producer who decides Ruth is the next great American story. But in Hazard County, the truth is rarely easy to find and does anyone really want to trust a producer from FOX News? Peppered with hysterical recollections of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD this slyly subversive comedy is a great Southern summer-evening adventure.

Hazard County will be a National New Play Network World Premiere with Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas, and Actor’s Express. Hazard County will be fully produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville's 2005 Humana Festival for New Plays under the direction of Actor's Express Founding Artistic Director Chris Coleman. Coleman’s theatre company, Portland Center Stage has conducted workshops of the play through the Just Add Water West New Play series. Those who remember the earliest days of Actor’s Express won’t want to miss this exciting opportunity to see the kind of work Coleman is currently fostering at Portland Center Stage.

Contains strong language and adult situations.

Props Master Elisabeth Cooper
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Red Flags
by Dedalus
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
My first confession is that I was never a “Dukes of Hazard” fan, and, in fact, have never seen an episode of the series. My second confession is that, like all the characters in Allison Moore’s wonderful new play “Hazard County,” the Confederate Flag stirs emotions that have more to do with its symbolic baggage than with any actual historical role it played – emotions that can turn me into a reasonless and judgmental P.C. Stereotype.

The particular genius of this play is that it makes every side in a polarized situation seem so right and so wrong. At the same time, it manages to skewer my own preconceived notions while it seemingly justifies them. And, just as icing on the cake, it tosses in a series of amusing analyses of “Dukes of Hazard” that are all correct (I assume), even as they contradict each other.

On the surface, this is a very simple story – Big Town LA Producer comes to Small Town South to make a Reality Show about the “Down Home Hazard County” Types who live there. He meets a woman (Ruth) who has struggled to raise two rowdy (or obnoxious, depending on your tolerance level) twins after her husband was killed in what is variously described as a Road Rage Incident and a Hate Crime. As he learns more about the incident, the presence of the Confederate Flag in the crime assumes an importance far beyond its actual role. Assumptions are made, passions are ignited, stereotypes are confirmed and shattered, and, in the end, Ruth is left as she was at the start – intriguing, strong, alone, and surviving. Throughout, commentators discuss “The Dukes of Hazard” and what it has meant to them.

It’s the last commentator who brings the theme of the play to the fore. She discusses the Confederate Flag and how the “Dukes” perpetuated a disconnect between its actual history and its emotional resonance as a symbol. And that’s the very role it plays in Ruth’s history. Her husband flies it from his pickup because “It looked good with the red paint job.” His killer allegedly knew nothing of its history, but just thought of it as “that ‘Dukes of Hazard’ flag.” The killer’s lawyers jumped on its divisiveness to turn the trial into a showdown between the NAACP and the White Supremacist movement. Lost in everything was the truth of the crime, and how all the posturing affected the survivor and her ties to her community.

And lost in the rush to judgment was any recognition of the real attraction between Ruth and Blake, the producer from L.A. And this rush to judgment leads to a very gripping showdown with Ruth’s son and the destruction of any real connection that had existed between them.

I liked how this play showed us the realness beneath typically stereotypical characters (and I include the “City Guy in the Country” stereotype here). The stereotypes are acknowledged, even celebrated to an extent, but our thinking of them as stereotypes is shoved right back into our faces, making us acknowledge our own “cultural smugness” and the red flags that can turn us into judgmental stereotypes of our own devising.

Don’t let my over-analysis here lead you to believe this production is a dry and intellectual soapbox affair. It is a vivid, funny, thrilling, and, ultimately moving portrait of a character and the forces and trends that make her a tragic figure. And there are no villains here. Ms. Moore has affection for all her characters, all of whom can be heroic or aggravating depending on what emotional buttons are being pushed.

And the cast is fully up to the task of making them come alive. Amy Lynn Stewart is a wonder as Ruth. As Blake, Brik Berkes gives one of his best performances in a while. And Shelly McCook, Jen Apgar, and Charlie Burnett give able support as Ruth’s sister (or was it cousin?) and children (and Ms. Apgar and Mr. Burnett also score well as the various commentators). I also liked how the unit set could become living room, bar room, and creek side with a few tricks of lighting, and how Blake’s video camera is used to build tension in the climax.

In this forum, I often criticize plays and actors who use stereotypes to make their points, to pad their stories, or to get cheap laughs. “Hazard County” is a play that uses them to question our own judgments about them, and to show us that symbols have a nasty way of becoming “Red Flags” that push our emotional buttons. I think it’s one of the best productions of this season.

-- Brad Rudy (



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