I usually use this space to share with you the themes of the play, what they mean to me, and how they apply to our present time and culture. And indeed, the plays of William Shakespeare have had a profound impact on my life. It was seeing The Comedy Of Errors as a sophomore in high school that first got me interested in theatre and radically changed my life. I am working my way through seeing all his plays performed on stage or screen (only six to go!).
Well, forget all of that. Sure, The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) is an appreciation of the playwright and his immeasurable impact on the world. But, don’t worry – no knowledge or love of Shakespeare is needed. I think The Today Show put it best when, reviewing the show they stated: “If you like Shakespeare, you’ll love this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love this show!”
So, prepare yourself for a whirlwind theatrical experience that is unlike anything you’ve seen before. This is going to be a high-speed roller coaster ride so buckle in and keep your hands and feet inside the theater at all times.
Oh, and one more thing… you best be ready. You never know when we might be calling on you for help tonight!
When the 2016/2017 Waukesha Civic Theatre season was announced and I saw that To Kill A Mockingbird was on the list, I knew that I would clamor and claw for the opportunity to direct this play. I have taught the novel to my freshman World Literature class, and year after year, it sparks a vibrant conversation of race, equality, poverty, violence, innocence, desperation, and hope. It is a story that speaks to my heart and screams to my conscience. I see myself in Scout – in her compulsion to stand up for what’s right, and to be the voice for those who are too scared or unable to speak up. I even named my daughter Harper in tribute to Ms. Lee. It is a dream of mine to direct the stage play of Mockingbird – to bring this conversation to life as only theatre can, and I am deeply humbled to be trusted to tell this story with an incredible team of actors and designers.
I am thrilled to see Harper Lee’s novel bringing our community and schools together, in partnership with the Waukesha Reads program. To Kill A Mockingbird is an intelligent and timely choice for Waukesha Civic Theatre at this point in history. With tensions high, the conversation of the racial divide in America is vital as ever. Voices are raised, fires are burning, and yet voices are going unheard. We need to hear one another and listen to the singing of the “mockingbirds,” so that we can find understanding. In this play, the echoes of slavery are heard in the deeply-rooted segregation of the South, just as the echoes of segregation are heard in towns across America today. Mockingbird not only serves as a reflection of the past, but it mirrors today’s world and provides a lens through which we can look into the future. While you can look for villains in this play, they are hard to pin down. Even the apparent villains are victims of circumstance, aren’t they? Ignorance, poverty, culture, and fear stand in the way of progress in Harper Lee’s 1934 Maycomb, Alabama as they continue to do today across America. If I had to guess, I would say that Harper Lee would never have imagined just how relevant her story would be in the year 2016, and I have to wonder if she would how discontented she would be. My fervent hope is that in my lifetime, this play will become antiquated; it will become a piece of history we will use to look back with gratitude on a time before things changed.
I hope that you find truth here today – that you find laughter, and that you find heartache; I most certainly have found all of these things in building this show with our team. I would like to thank John Cramer for giving me the opportunity to direct Mockingbird, my incredible cast for trusting me and one another, and bringing with them a goodness of heart that moves me, and my production team of artists and organizers who make this show possible. I am forever grateful to my supportive and loving family, Aaron (lighting/sound designer), Jaxon, and Harper. Please help us spread the word and fill this house each performance. We are so glad you are here.