Andrew Shipman, one of the youngest actors in the cast of “To Kill a
Mockingbird,” now playing at Hartford Stage, took some time backstage to reveal
how he plays the wonderfully erratic Dill Harris.
Shipman said he
likes his role because Dill “has high energy.”
Though he’s younger
than many of the actors, he easily gets along with and learns from the others in
the cast, he said.
“You learn so
much,” Shipman said, from the other actors.
Shipman said it
helps to be on stage with Henry Hodges, who plays Jem Finch.
“Playing off of him
(Jem) really helps,” said Shipman.
eleven-year-old fifth grader at Nayaug Elementary School in Glastonbury
Connecticut, said he is not the youngest in the cast.
Children as young
as seven are part of the show, he said.
Shipman’s start on
stage wasn’t as a dramatic actor.
“I've always liked
singing,” Shipman said. “I’ve always loved singing. I’ve sang around the house
since I could talk.”
Shipman said he
loves being in plays and musicals.
“My first show was
when I was six,” he said.
Though he said
acting takes up most of his time, Shipman said he also plays basketball and
tennis and spends time with his dog.
Shipman has been in
six shows at Hartford Stage and loves it.
puts on great productions,” Shipman said. He said “Our Town” and “To Kill a
Mockingbird” are his favorites, Shipman said.
“It’s so fun being
in this play,” he said.
He also loves
taking part in “A Christmas Carol” at Hartford Stage every year, he said.
Playing Tiny Tim was his first role at the theater, he said.
Putting out all the
energy required to play Dill is hard enough, but “To Kill a Mockingbird” doesn't
get Shipman out of school.
Shipman still has
to put an equal amount of energy into his school work. He says that he is
provided with a tutor to keep up with fifth grade.
“I can go to the
tutor if I miss a lot of school,” said Shipman, who added that missing some
school in fifth grade doesn’t pose as big a problem as it would if he were
“It's not as hard
as high school,” Shipman said, “It's been challenging and kind of fun.”
One thing that
Shipman did not have to learn from a tutor is the importance of Harper Lee’s
novel To Kill a Mockingbird and
the message of tolerance it sends.
“I think the title
doesn’t have a lot to do with the plot. It’s a symbol,” said Shipman, “a symbol
for our community.”