Some shows we choose for their value to our students, as a vehicle for growth and education. Some shows we choose for their popularity among our audiences. Some shows we choose because they just make sense at the time, based on current events or sensibilities. And some shows...well, sometimes, we pick a show because we've always wanted to do it and the time is finally right.
To Kill a Mockingbird was one of those shows. Yes, it fulfilled those first three criteria when we chose it to open our 2011-2012 season. But Joe and I had been waiting (not so patiently) for the right time after seeing a wonderful production at Baldwin-Wallace University's high school theatre workshop early in our tenure as advisers. Directed by my mentor Jack Winget, the B-W production inspired us as we began exploring the whole Black Box experience on our stage, and though nearly a decade passed in the meantime, in 2011 we finally decided the time had come.
In the handful of days since Harper Lee's passing, I've read and heard innumerable tributes to her work, and the effect Mockingbird continues to have on our world view. When I learned of her death, my thoughts immediately turned to our production, and the journey we took through our own streets of Maycomb County.
Scrolling through Facebook Friday afternoon, I was moved by the comments posted by the cast as they each recalled their experiences with Mockingbird. Each show we do creates its share of jokes and memories, but this one touched us all in a very personal way, thanks in no small part to Ms. Lee's words and images. Just as the whispers of Miss Maudie and Mayella Ewell will continue to echo in the corners of our theatre, the ghostly figure of Boo Radley will continue to watch over two young children as they learn to navigate this complicated world.
Stand up, Miss Jean Louise--your father's passin'.
Kristina J. Ferencie has directed the SHS Drama Club since 2001.