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On its face, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the story of whether a brilliant attorney can beat the odds and get a man acquitted of a crime he did not commit.
Dig a little deeper, and this classic Harper Lee novel is a tale of how a young girl and her brother refuse to learn hatred and in so doing learn to make their corner of the world a better place.
"To Kill a Mockingbird," the timeless story about courage in the face of evil, will be staged by Lakeland College Theatre at the end of October.The story, dramatized by Christopher Sergel, is told through the point of view of a young girl, Scout (played by Katelyn Gussert), and the
arrator of this new adaptation is Scout as an adult.
Through the innocent eyes of this girl, we see how she makes sense of the horrors of racism, but we also see through the eyes of the grown woman how the compassion she learned from her father, Atticus (David Neese), has healed many wounds.
Performances are scheduled for Oct. 29-31 at 7:30 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 1 in the Bradley Fine Arts Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 non-Lakeland students.
Lakeland College Theatre director Charlie Krebs said while many have likely read the story - maybe years before in school - the themes remain poignant.
"While the subject matter is difficult and reminds us of a difficult chapter of our history, the story is beautifully rendered for the stage," Krebs said. "The lessons of the story go beyond compassion to courage, loyalty and standing up for what's right in light of overwhelming odds.
"If you look beneath the obvious, you will discover this play is not about hatred, but learning compassion in the face of hatred. Scout learns a great lesson from Atticus that you never really know a person until you walk around in their skin. When Atticus makes his son Jem (Tyler Allen) read to Mrs. Dubose, despite the horrible names she calls his father, Jem learns about her disease and what real courage is."
Actors in Lakeland's production will employ the Laban Effort System as they embrace impulse-based acting. Krebs said he is thrilled with their work.
"The acting by these Lakeland students is magnificent," Krebs said. "They are working hard to create superbly realistic acting that steers away from being dramatic and looks for the power of truth in simple moments. The actors have to speak in a southern dialect for hours at a time in rehearsals in order to make the accent sound realistic."
The scenery will be very symbolic. The entire set will be made to look old, beaten, weathered and colorless, much like the mindset of Macomb, Ala., in 1935.
This production continues the growing interest in theatre at Lakeland. Krebs, who is in his third year at the college, has already announced that the spring musical will be a production of "Chicago," set for March 25-28.
|Jean, Narrator||Kirstin Wixon|
|Atticus Finch||David Neese|
|Maudie Atkinson||Marie Perry|
|Stephanie Crawford||Kayann Botana|
|Mrs. Dubose||Julia Williams|
|Nathan Radley||Nick Doerflinger|
|Heck Tate||Rob Forgette|
|Reverend Sykes||J. Garland Schilcutt|
|Walter Cunningham||Shane Collins|
|Judge Taylor||Brad Dunn|
|Court Clerk||Ian Johanson|
|Bob Ewell||Cody Linder|
|Mayella Ewell||Adrianna Coopman|
|Mr. Gilmer||Joe Janisch|
|Tom Robinson||Eian West|
|Helen Robinson||Jasmine Golden|
|Boo Radley||Jacob McKnight|
|Stage Manager||Emma Drake|