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ON OVER 60 BRANDS! - WhatzUp

ON OVER 60 BRANDS! - WhatzUp

ON OVER 60 BRANDS! -

------------------ Feature • To Kill a Mockingbird----------------- Staging a Civics Lesson By Jen Poiry-Prough This spring, Fort Wayne’s biggest entertainment blockbuster isn’t an action movie with explosions and car chases. According to the director and cast of To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s a poignant and heart wrenching history lesson played out live onstage at the USF Performing Arts Center. The stage production is based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee. The 1962 film starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a lawyer and single dad faced with the impossible task of defending the life of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman – a crime it becomes clear he did not commit. “The courtroom scene is as exciting as any current action or adventure film,” says Greg Stieber, who plays virulently racist prosecutor Mr. Gilmer. “It’s gripping; it’s fast-paced. There’s a reason the American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest film hero of all time. He’s not shooting a gun or jumping from buildings. But the courtroom scene is astounding.” “Atticus is a great champion of right,” says director Brad Beauchamp. “He stands up against all odds, knowing full well there’s not a snowball’s chance of Tom Robinson getting a fair trial. Ever.” Ennis Brown, who plays the accused man, agrees. “Tom Robinson is a pioneer. He’s the Rosa Parks of his time. Tom knows there’s no way possible he’ll be found not guilty, but he stays true on the witness stand. He has to endure and stand tall and proud.” The show is as relevant toay as it was 50 years ago when the novel was written or 80 years ago when the story takes place. “Society truggles with our own prejudices,” says Beauchamp. There are pockets of the country that still have segreation.” Brown agrees. “It’s good to show everyone [this is] still subtly going on now. The play shows us where we came from and where we need to go.” Playgoers should be warned the script contains rough language. Beauchamp did not allow his actors to soften the blow. As the prosecutor working to convince a jury that the accused is a second class citizen at best, Stieber says that calling his friend “boy” 14 times (he counted them) “was rough in the beginning. It bothered me more than I thought it would, but Ennis said, ‘No, the nastier you are to me, the easier it is to react to.’” To help Brown get into Tom’s mind-set, Beauhamp reminded him, “We need to see in your eyes the understanding that] at any time this trial could lose and you could be out the door and hanging from tree.” Given the emotionally draining content, Beauhamp wanted to cultivate a secure environment, so e insisted on a closed rehearsal. No one outside the ast was allowed. “They needed to feel comfortable ith one another,” he explains. “These are nasty, viious words. [The actors] need to be comfortable with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Friday-Saturday, April 5-6 & 12-13 • 8 p.m. Sunday, April 7 & 14 • 2 p.m. USF Performing Arts Center 421 W. Berry St., Fort Wayne Tix: $12-$15 thru box office, 797-1699 each other as human beings. As Ennis said, ‘We’re all family here.’” Brown agrees that the closed set “eased everybody’s tension. [The other actors] thought hearing those words would be uncomfortable for me. But mostly it was uncomfortable for them.” Nevertheless, he admits that “to have someone in your face, degrading you by calling you ‘boy’ or that little ‘n’ word takes a toll on you. As an actor, you have to separate it from yourself and ask yourself, ‘What am I doing this for’ It’s for the greater good. This story needs to be told and retold.” Brown says he watched the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained before starting work on this play. “I thought, ‘How can you let people say that word to your face over and over’” he laughs. “And I realize now that as an actor, you see yourself as a teacher.” He calls the show “a history lesson brought to life. A lot of people don’t like to read but theatre helps them visualize it and absorb it more. It’s a learning tool for everyone. This history lesson is thrust on you.” As a counter-balance to such heavy lessons, the script has some “lighthearted [moments],” says Beauchamp. The courtroom drama is shown through the eyes of Atticus’ daughter Scout (played by Zoe Moore), his son Jem (Bo Geyer), and their friend Dill (Ray Wolf), and the beginning of the play features some humor. “Brad is really in tune with the perspectives of the children,” says Stieber, who directed a Civic Theatre production of the same script 10 years ago. “He’s really capturing that ‘through of the eyes of a child’ Continued on page 22 18 24 MONTH FINANCING MADNESS! No Interest if Paid in Full within 24 Months * ON OVER 60 BRANDS! *On Purchases of select manufacturers’ products made with your Sweetwater Musician’s All Access Platinum Card between now and the expiration date. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the promotional purchase is not paid in full within 24 months. Minimum Monthly Payments. Some manufacturer-specific restrictions apply — ask your sales engineer for details. Store Hours Mon.–Thurs. 9–9 Friday 9–8 Saturday 9–7 Call (260) 432–8176 or visit Sweetwater.com. March 28, 2013----------------------------------------------------------------- www.whatzup.com- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5

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