To Kill A Mockingbird goes from page to stage
HARPER Lee’s masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird is being brought to life on the Stirling Theatre stage.
Adapted by Christopher Sergel and directed by Jane Sherwood, the Pulitzer Prize-winner is set during the Great Depression in a sleepy Alabama town where Scout and her brother Jem live with their widowed father Atticus Finch.
When a young black man is accused of a terrible crime, Atticus defends the man in a trial that sends violent waves through the community.
“To Kill a Mockingbird is a tale of racism, hatred and crime,” Sherwood said.
“But ultimately it’s the tale of loss of innocence, when the injustices of an adult world come crashing into childhood.
“The children follow the case closely and find much to admire in their father but are very disappointed in the attitude of the town.”
The main challenge, according to Sherwood, is portraying the issues in the story.
“The language is so wrong to us today but we want to stay true to the period,” she said.
“From a technical point-of-view, we have a large cast to fit onto a small crowded stage.
“And there are many little challenges with set-building and conveying the period with authenticity.”
Involved with the Perth theatre scene since 2005, Sherwood was a founding member of Phoenix Theatre and has been involved with the Old Mill, Stirling, Black Swan, Rag and Bone, Kwinana and Harbour Theatres, A lad in sane productions, ARENAarts and Fringe World.
She has won numerous accolades at the annual Finley Awards, Dramafest, South West Drama Festival and Hills Festival of Theatre including best director and best production.
In 2018, Sherwood took a break from theatre to work on films but made a return in 2019, acting in Lady Willpower, and appearing in Kate’s Story for Life on Hold Productions.
Last year, she performed in The Actress and directed the award-winning Love Letters, also playing Mavis in the upcoming series Slippery Business.
“I felt the time was right to tell the To Kill a Mockingbird story again,” Sherwood said.
“Unfortunately, there are still many parallels to issues in today’s society.
“The play is based closely on the book – playwright Christopher Sergel even met with author Harper Lee to discuss the adaptation.
“I don’t think there will be any big surprises because there’s no point trying to put a twist on something people know so well.
“But I am looking for truth in performance and hope the audience connect to all the characters they see before them, rather than imagining what they have seen before.”
To Kill A Mockingbird plays at 8pm April 23, 24, 29, 30, May 1, 6, 7 and 8 with 2pm matinees April 25 and May 2. Tickets are $22, $20 concession – book at www.trybooking.com/BNULQ.
Stirling Theatre is on Morris Place, Innaloo.
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