Theatre UAB presents “Everybody” Nov. 8-11 and Nov. 15-18

In this modern take on a 15th-century morality play, follow Everybody as they journey through life’s greatest mystery: the meaning of living.

theatre everybody Poster 22x28Theatre UAB presents “Everybody,” a modern take on the 15th-century morality play “Everyman,” with shows Nov. 8-11 and Nov. 15-18, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Theatre UAB is the performance company of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8-11 and 15-17, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 18, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Odess Theatre. Tickets are $15; $10 for students, UAB employees and senior citizens. Purchase tickets at or call 205-975-2787. 

Director Jack Cannon first encountered “Everyman” while in high school in the early 1980s, where he read the play and acted it out in the original Old English. The plot is simple and straight forward: God, upset at man’s inability to live a moral life, demands that Death bring forward Everybody (all of humankind) to account for their life and justify their existence. 

Fascinated by the play’s structure as a morality play, with the use of abstract concepts as the play’s characters instead of people, Cannon pitched the play through the years, but no one wanted to perform it in Old English. Then came the announcement of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. A finalist for the prize was new playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and his play “Everybody,” a modern riff on “Everyman” without the Old English. Forty years of wanting to direct a certain play and suddenly it became possible, he says. 

Jacobs-Jenkins’ play, however, is anything but straight forward. The setting is the very theater that is producing the play — in this case, the UAB Department of Theatre, in the Odess Theatre, at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

The play opens with a theater usher greeting the audience and reviewing the historical background of the play “Everyman.” The audience is then introduced to “God” and “Death,” abstract concepts but played by actors. Then the real fun begins. At each performance, five “Somebodies” are chosen from the audience and a lottery ensues to choose the play’s central character: Everybody. Once an “Everybody” is revealed, the remaining four actors take on the other characters/concepts in the play. What follows is a wild, unpredictable, yet hilarious evening of theater examining the falsehoods of life, the foibles of family and society, and the fragility of our collective isolated existences.

Artistic and production staff for the production include student McKenna Shaw, choreography; Alan E. Schwanke, scenic design; Sharon Morgan, costume design; David Page, light and sound design; Inji Ha, properties design; Santiago Sosa, voice and text coach; Therrin Eber, production manager and technical director; Jonathan Harder, assistant technical director; and Amy Page, costume director. 

In spring 2024, Theatre UAB will feature “The 39 Steps” and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” performed in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. For the season finale, Theatre UAB will join with Red Mountain Theatre to present the iconic feel-good musical comedy “Sister Act” in April.