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'Mockingbird' adapted for stage

Buskirk-Chumley puts on production of Harper Lee classic

POSTED AT 12:28 AM ON Sep. 10, 2012  (UPDATED AT 12:43 AM ON Sep. 10, 2012)

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Three houses stood tall on a street in Maycomb, Ala. A large tree shaded the unkempt house to the far right while beautiful flowers surrounded the house to the left. A swing rocked gently to and fro on the middle porch.

On Friday night, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater’s stage was set to represent the street from Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The house on the far right belonged to the iconic Radley family, where the mysterious Boo Radley resided. Cranky old Mrs. Dubose lived in the house to the left, caring only for her flowers.

The middle set housed the three main characters of the play, Atticus Finch and his children, Scout and Jem.

“This is one of the most difficult plays that I’ve ever run across for kids,” director Randy White said. “Usually when you do a play with kids, they have a line or two. Even in ‘Annie’ they sing a couple songs, but the adults still carry most of the lines. In the first act of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ those kids are everything.”

Written in the 1960s, Lee’s book explores moral issues and racism in 1930s Alabama through the eyes of Scout, a 10-year-old girl. Ciarra Krohne played Scout in this adaptation.

“It’s been a challenge in terms of getting them, especially in a big theater with no microphones, to working on diction, volume, clarity and making sure they understand the scene structures,” White said. “I think they’re doing a great job.”

IU graduate Constance Macy played the role of Jean Louise Finch, grown-up Scout, who narrates the story. Macy opened the night with a description of summer in Maycomb, Ala.

“Somehow it was hotter then,” Jean Louise said, looking thoughtfully at the audience. “Black dogs suffered in the sun.”

Scout and Jem scampered onto the stage talking excitedly about Boo Radley. Dill joined the two on stage and, as in the novel, they instantly became friends.

“Boo eats raw squirrels, cats and anything he can catch,” Jem said, staring straight into the eyes of a terrified Scout and skeptical Dill. “He has rotten yellow teeth and a long, jagged scar goin’ across his face.”

From that point on, the trio became obsessed with catching sight of the elusive Boo. They tried everything, from peeking in the windows to handing up notes with a fishing pole. Dill never got to see Boo, but Jem and Scout were able to see him later.

Atticus Finch, played by Dan Rodden, is a key figure in the novel. Rodden brought Finch to life, quoting some of his most memorable lines.

“You can shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em,” Atticus said, remembering the words his father once spoke to him. “But it’s a sin to kill a
mockingbird.”

The adaptation highlighted main events in the novel, such as Atticus shooting the rabid dog and Tom Robinson’s trial.

Following Lee’s story, Tom Robinson was brought to trial, and Bob Ewell threatened Atticus. He attacked Scout and Jem, nearly killing Jem before Boo Radley came to the rescue.

The play concluded with Jean Louise standing in the spotlight, knowing Atticus “would be in Jem’s room all night, and he would be there in the mornin’ when Jem waked up.”
The cast’s performance Friday night received a standing ovation.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Bloomington resident David Stevens said. “I especially like the courthouse scene. They created an intense moment and allowed greater audience involvement. They made the story surround you.”

 

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