Director Tommy Wooten recently brought “To Kill a Mockingbird” to Ansonia Theatre, highlighting injustice, inequality and small-town living during the Great Depression.
“It’s a classic for one thing, and the message is timeless,” Wooten said. “Many folks who saw the play commented on how far we have come as a nation and yet how far we still have to go.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” was dramatized by Christopher Sergel, from the book by Harper Lee. Its is a full-length drama, and has won an award for being one of Theatre Communication Group’s Top 10 Most-Produced Plays, according to the Dramatic Publishing Company website.
Set in 1935, this play illustrates the social issues of this time period as the black people of the community have a special feeling about Scout’s father, Atticus, a lawyer representing Tom Robinson, a black man accused of what is considered a horrendous crime during those times. Scout is confused as to why all of these things are happening, and in her curious nature, inserts herself into these drastic situations.
According to the DPC site, a few of her white friends are inexplicably hostile, unpleasant things are shouted, and the bewildered girl turns to her father. Atticus explains that he is defending a young negro wrongfully accused of a grave crime.
It goes on to say that, as Atticus comes out of the courthouse, the deeply moved town minister tells Scout, “Stand up. Your father’s passing!”
“We picked the show last year and we were looking to bring shows that people had heard of or were familiar with,” Wooten said. “We have a theater committee that picks the shows each year and we try to bring a diverse lineup each season.”
Wooten also said that they found that they draw bigger audiences to big name shows. The show was performed on Oct. 13 through 22, on the weekends.
“We always do two weekends for our community plays,” Wooten said. “This gives our community plenty of opportunities to catch our shows.”
The show had a main cast of 27 people, with five playing the townspeople.
“We had auditions two months ago and we had over 30 people show up,” Wooten said. “We rehearsed four nights a week for two months.”
Wooten said as a non profit, their main goal is to break even. He also said that all proceeds go into bringing other performances to the theater.
“There are so many plays and musicals out there that have not been done in our community, and we want to present new shows as much as possible,” Wooten said. “There will be a time when we do a retrospective, highlighting some of the best of our past productions.”