Connecticut, U.S.A. – Playing some of
the most famous kids in American literature, three young actors at Hartford
Stage are having a great time with their roles while tackling the tough issues
in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The kids in the show
See a video of their
play, which is nearing the end of a wildly popular run, is based
on the Harper Lee novel of the same name. It features
12-year-old Olivia Scott as Scout Finch, a girl growing up in
tiny Maycomb, Alabama; 15-year-old Henry Hodges as her brother
Jem, and 11-year-old Andrew Shipman, who plays their friend,
The three actors said
they’re having fun with their characters, but also said the play delivers an
Set in the early
1930s during a time of intense racial prejudice, the three children are in the
middle of a controversial court case that has the entire town watching. Scout
and Jem’s father, attorney Atticus Finch, is assigned to defend a black man, Tom
Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell.
Hodges said the play
is still relevant to today’s society.
“You can still
totally be judged because of your race. We’re not done with it, we’ve still got
a long way to go,” Hodges said.
Scott said the show
“also kind of points a finger at the audience. Your ancestors did this and it’s
your job to change it now.”
Shipman said the
story tells “how far we’ve come, but what we need to work on.”
But the lessons are
more than that.
“It kind of gives the
message of hope for a better future,” said Scott.
characters of the play prove that “no one’s perfect,” said Hodges. “If
everyone’s perfect, it would be very boring.”
audience member approved of how the cast delivered the message in “Mockingbird.”
Horton Foote, the
American playwright who wrote the screenplay to the 1962 movie, “To Kill a
Mockingbird,” had a long relationship with Hartford Stage.
His daughter, Hallie
Foote, plays the adult Scout and narrates the show.
Horton Foote, who was
92 when he died last month, supported the production.
“He came to opening
night,” said Scott. “He gave us a standing ovation.”
Scott, who said she’s
a little bit of a tomboy in real life, said she’s having fun in the role of
Scout, who gets into fights with boys at school.
“It’s fun beating up
people,” said Scott. “It’s fun getting frustrated.”
Hodges said he enjoys
the journey Jem makes through the play.
“I really like the
character,” said Hodges. “He’s great.”
Hodges can’t think of
a part of playing Jem that he doesn’t like.
At first, Hodges
said, Jem is presented as a somewhat lonely young man. But by the second act, as
the dramatic court scene progresses, Jem gains new respect for his father.
“My favorite scene is
probably the first scene of the show,” said Hodges. He especially likes it
because it introduces the story of Boo Radley, the mysteriously shy neighbor
that the kids spend much of their time trying to coax out of his house. “It’s
really a great story. We have lots of fun.”
Inspired by Boo
Radley’s gift of dolls carved out of soap, Scott said she gave soap carving a
Watching the courtroom scene:
Henry Hodges, Pat Bowie, C. Zakiah Barksdale, Andrew
Shipman, Olivia Scott. Photo provided by T. Charles Erickson.