Monday, December 5, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird at DPHS (2011)

The first weekend of November this year, I had the pleasure of both watching and being a part of  five live performances of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  I played the role of Mr. Cunningham.  The play, written by Christopher Sergel, is adapted from Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Karen Rugerio directed this play as well. The setting is Maycomb, Alabama 1935. A basic summary of the plot is this: Jem and Scout meet Dill, a young boy who feeds on their fascination of Boo Radley. Atticus, Jem and Scout’s father, is appointed to defend a black man named Tom Robinson who is charged with raping and beating Mayella Ewell. When the day of the trial arrives it is revealed that Bob and Mayella Ewell are lying, and that Mayella made sexual advances toward Tom. Now, Tom is innocent, but is still sent to jail with a guilty verdict. Jem’s faith, along with Atticus’s, in the justice system decreases. Especially so when they are told by Heck Tate, the sheriff, that Tom was shot to death. Then, Bob Ewell, who was humiliated in front of everyone in court, attacks Jem and Scout. This lures out Boo Radley, who saves Jem and Scout from Bob. The sheriff sees no reason to prosecute Boo or Jem, as it was Bob that was killed and convinces Atticus to not pursue it.

Three characters that stood out to me were Atticus Finch, Mayella Ewell, and last but not least, Jem. Atticus has integrity, respect, intelligence, courage and is compassionate. Mayella is conflicted, abused, manipulated, maladjusted and fearful. Jem is fun, friendly, understanding, hurt and is maturing. I feel that for this play, there is no “main idea” that is being sent across here. There is a great mix of themes in this play, and the one that stood out the most to me is courage. Doing the right thing even though it isn’t popular. Atticus does that in this play and to me it is awe-inspiring.

 Now, I will discuss the performance I was in on Friday, on the night in which the judges came to see us. The set, watching it from concept to completion was simply amazing. I mean the paint and design of the houses and courtroom were well fitting of the images created in my mind when I first read the play. The lighting wasn’t bad, but there were some rough spots in which the lighting hindered the watching ability from the audience’s point of view. I saw footage of the mob scene and found that it was needlessly dark. Luckily, the problem was addressed and the lighting was perfect on the days following Friday. The costumes were all period appropriate, so no complaints there. The props were good as well, so the illusion was never ruined by little nuances like that. Wigs and make-up were excellent. I found the shadowing of my face to be perfect as to how my face was actually aligned. Though, having prior knowledge of how some of the wigged actors look pre-wig, it was slightly uncomfortable as it was messing with the already preset image in my mind. The sound was pretty good, there were moments when projection, mine too, wasn’t high enough. The last portion of the play the audience sees was nicely done. I get what Ms. Rugerio was trying to accomplish by creating this picture of everyone together. The vocals were excellent, I speak of course of the main singer, her voice definitely exceeds normal expectations of quality.  The acting, from what I was able to see (the courtroom scene mainly), was impressive.

 I know firsthand that everyone worked tirelessly to bring up their performance level.  I liked what everyone did with their characters in how they all did their part and saw things from the character’s point of view. I really enjoyed playing the role and doing the work in learning more about this character.  I think Gregory Peck and Harper Lee would be proud of this production.

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