TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
ADAPTED BY CHRISTOPHER SERGEL
UTAH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the great American stories. With clear, simple strokes it paints a moving portrait of a child’s coming of age, small town southern life in the Great Depression, and the lingering, poisonous shadows of slavery.
In 1960, when the novel was first published, it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for over eighty weeks. In 1961, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The film premiered in 1962 with a screenplay written by Horton Foote and starring Gregory Peck. It was a Best Picture nominee and won three Academy Awards. By 1966, the book had sold ten million copies and was published in a dozen languages around the world.
This enormous success was due not only to the book’s literary stature, but also to its timing. In the midst of our national struggle over civil rights, the voices of Scout and Atticus Finch were deeply sane and powerfully resonant. Indeed, in 1991, a national Survey of Lifetime Reading Habits conducted by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress found that To Kill a Mockingbird was second only to The Bible in having “the largest impact” on people’s lives.
We’ve come a long way since 1960. We’ve come longer still since 1935, when the story begins. Perhaps by now we can fully claim our history in all its ugliness and beauty, because we realize it is essential to who and what we are as Americans.
Regardless, To Kill a Mockingbird retains its power because it resonates so simply and clearly with our lives. Each of us has felt the hurt and confusion of discovering that the world is unjust. Each of us has been touched by watching someone brave enough to witness for the truth. And, hopefully, each of us has learned to walk around a bit in another person’s shoes.
Great art does not preach or judge, it raises questions. Sometimes it even asks for an answer. To Kill a Mockingbird looks back with open eyes and remembers where we’ve been. But like young Scout, it gazes forward, too.
“(This) adaptation of Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel...may sound old-hat, but the writing isn’t, and neither is Edward Morgan’s energetic direction. you feel as if the show were written yesterday...And when the climatic verdict is read, Morgan expertly builds the suspense so that you’re likely to gasp no matter how you thought things were going to turn out...Morgan delivers the important stuff. He reminds us what a timeless tale some “dated” tales can be.”
– Las Vegas Review-Journal
“A stellar cast, brilliant directing and strict adherence to the novel’s basic concepts - if not all of the details - makes this play one of the festival’s best in recent years...Director Edward Morgan brings it all together, weaving the various strengths of the production into a moving story that goes beyond a simple play to become a theatrical experience...an inspired cast and crew find the magic in this timeless tale.”
“...full of the ache of poverty, the blindness of bigotry and the pain of mental illness...The play’s melancholy tension, enveloped here by Jo Winiarski’s lovely set, is given eloquent life.”
– Daily Bytes / Theatre - Utah’s Art Magazine
“5 Star Rating - USF’s production, directed by Edward Morgan, is a skillful and touching portrayal of the American South of the 1930s, as seen through the eyes of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. (It) combines a dramatic story, well-written script, skillful acting and elegant visual design to create an emotionally rich theater experience.”
Lights: Jaymi Lee Smith
Costumes: David Kay Mickelsen
Set: Jo Winiarski
Sound: Joe Payne