Everyone knows the classic story of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” where the taboo issue of racism arises and the division of a town is dealt with, all told from the innocent perspective of a child. Herndon High School jumps into the task of conveying the true message of the story, and they manage to do this artfully and tastefully. Taking on the challenge courageously is the Theatre Director, Sarah Bever, and the students of the HHS Theatre Department, all of whom are excited and enthusiastic to be making such a dramatic jump into the show. “The show is amazing,” says sophomore Matt Jackson, who plays Dill in the play. “We have had so much fun working on this show, and the cast has definitely grown together as an ensemble — that shows in our performance. Ms. Bever has introduced us to lots of different methods to help us get into character, and that has really helped all of us to develop strong, defined personas on the stage. The cast definitely feeds off each others’ energy, and we have a really talented group of kids working together. It’s going to be great!”
The play is told through the memories of Jean Louise Finch (senior Lauryn McCarter) who takes the audience back to the 1930s, back to Maycomb County, where she grew up as the girl known as ‘Scout.’ Atticus Finch (junior Abe Woyke) is called upon to defend Tom Robinson (junior Tyler Andere) a local black man who has been unfairly accused of attacking and raping a white girl. These claims are brought forth by the girl’s father, Bob Ewell (senior George Lyons). The audience sees Atticus’ children, Scout (senior Emma Jasper) and Jem (junior Sam McCracken) and their friend Dill (sophomore Matt Jackson) having to learn how to deal with the way their neighbors turn away from them and then watching the people who were once thought of as friends, become enemies. The whole town is changed by this trial, and the children are slowly forced to grow up.
Tom Robinson’s trial ultimately brings about the transformation of perspective throughout the community. The climax of the show comes when a bitter Bob Ewell attacks the children, in order to get revenge on Atticus for disgracing his already ruined name. However, the show ultimately ends with a feeling of optimism, leaving the audience with the confidence that all bad situations can have good outcomes.
As opposed to the humorous fall play “Wild Oats,” of the Department’s 2005-2006 season, “To Kill A Mockingbird” deals with deeper, emotional subjects, which all people can relate to, no matter what the time or place, be it 1936 in Maycomb County, or 2006 in Fairfax County. Racism and a town divided are just as relevant here and now with the immigration issues that have recently swirled around the community. “Racism is such a touchy subject, but it’s not one that can be ignored,” says senior Jonathan Lawson, who plays “Reverend Sykes” in the play. “As a community, we need to pull together, face it head on, and come up with a positive solution. That’s what ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is all about… people who are forced to deal with a situation that has been too long ignored. Although the resolution the town comes to may not be the best outcome possible, the play ends with a sense of hope, which is what we need to find in this place and time.” The play ends with the town’s desire for a better future of understanding one other, as the last lines of the play clearly illustrate:
Scout: “All those ideas we had about Boo Radley — but Atticus, he’s real nice.”
Atticus: “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”