On Saturday, Nov. 1, the Stage One Players of St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School created a realistic and engaging world of racial turmoil during the Great Depression in their production of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
The play, adapted from Harper Lee’s 1960 novel by Christopher Sergel, explores the effects of racism during the Great Depression in the small southern town of Maycomb, Ala. The town’s preeminent lawyer, Atticus Finch, who abhors racism, is called on to defend a clearly innocent black man from the prosecution of the crazed Bob Ewell, and the resulting turmoil has profound effects upon the entire town. Simultaneously, the story examines the moral growth of Atticus’s daughter, Jean Louise Finch, through these troubled times.
The production was both engaging and true to the original book, supported by the cast’s high energy and focus throughout. The entire cast very effectively created the proper mood for the production, and effectively interspersed humor within the serious tone of the show. The actors also did an excellent job of acting the age of their characters.
Greg Neithamer gave an entirely human performance of the moralistic Atticus Finch, while Margaret Edmonds gave a skillful performance as his daughter, Jean Louise or "Scout," displaying both childlike fun and deep understanding by the end of the performance.
Emma Oxford portrayed an authentic and believable performance as Miss Maudie Atkinson, a kind-hearted neighbor and narrator of the story. The performance of Chris Luggiero, playing the maddened Bob Ewell, brought his character to terrifying life, instilling fear in the audience during virtually the entire time he was onstage.
The play’s set, sporting facades of several houses, perfectly captured the essence of a small town in the 1930s. Lighting, by Chris Devine, Elizabeth Movius, Austin Aulder, and Andrew Groody, was spectacularly executed, with effects ranging from spotlights to an eerie thunderstorm. Although the play’s use of sound was imperfect, its sound effects, such as thunder, were quite effective. The performance’s music, composed and performed by student Natalie Richards, gave the play a distinctively quaint feel, and added a sense of continuity between scenes.
The performance also took impressive advantage of space, utilizing both a jutting stage and several scenes within the audience. By forcing the audience to react to certain scenes due to location, many of those scenes seemed the most powerful.
The Stage One Players took on a great task when attempting to perform "To Kill a Mockingbird," and managed to successfully create a believable and gripping story as well as a statement against the cruelties of white dominance.
<b>By Steve White</b>
St. Andrew's Episcopal School
<i>Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving more than 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas.</i>