“To Kill a Mockingbird” at the White Theater Relates to Recent Tragic Events in Overland Park, Kan.

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Lauren Hassan

Bob Compton
Photo by Bob Compton. Atticus Finch was a fan favorite character in the JCC’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” performance.

On Thursday, April 10, 2014, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy high school students and eighth graders attended a performance of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” a play written by Christopher Sergel and put on by the Jewish Community Center, in Overland Park, KS. HBHA and several other area schools watched in anticipation to see how the play would be carried out.

“Although a bit confusing at first by the setup, I was pleasantly surprised with the way the actors captured my attention,” said HBHA senior Leah Cohon. “I was quite impressed with the actor who played Atticus Finch.” The show started out with the actors facing the audience to make it appear as though the actors were interacting with the viewers. An older Jean Louise Finch narrated the story and appeared every so often to comment on her early life.

Bob Compton
Photo by Bob Compton. The trial in “To Kill a Mockingbird” was a pivotal part of the play.

By the end, everything was explained, all the knots were untied, and the older Jean Louise Finch, narrator of the play, found what she was been looking for. Margaret Veglahn; age 11, Whittaker Hoar; age 12, and Cam Burns; age 12, played the roles of Scout Finch, Jem Finch and Dill, respectively.

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The child actors in “To Kill a Mockingbird” were among the most talented on the stage.

Darren Sextro, the director of the play, stated that the challenges he faced in bringing the story to the stage. “When I began preparing the stage production for The White Theatre…I wanted to focus on the performances of the actors and bring clarity to the story. Another challenge was finding three tremendously talented child actors, as a huge part of the story depends on them. I ended up being fortunate in finding a great cast and having a beautiful theater in which to tell the story.”

Those who have read or seen “To Kill A Mockingbird” probably know that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. To kill a mockingbird is to kill something innocent and beautiful. People who had lived in Overland Park, Kan. for quite some time had never witnessed the killing of something so legitimate. However, on April 13th, tragedy struck at the Jewish Community Center and nearby Village Shalom, where, at the hands of a shooter, three people were murdered. On the day of the shooting a performance was taking place, but it was cut short by the tragedy.

“I think all of us in the cast are so devastated by the reality that there is still so much evil and intolerance, not just in the big wide world, but right in our own backyards.” Sextro reflected on the calamity. “A theme of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is that sometimes you have to face those challenges even if you suspect you will not win.” The novel “To Kill A Mockingbird”by Harper Lee is a tale that contains many vital life lessons and themes. It is often discussed whether the novel is suitable for children or adults because sometimes young readers do not yet appreciate what the book has to offer. Nonetheless, “To Kill A Mockingbird” is definitely a classic and a book that should be read by all at some point in their lives. The timing of the play and the shooting was tragic, and it illuminated one of the main themes of the book; the existence of hatred. Yet, though there is indeed hatred in this world, it is important to remember that there is also goodness. That goodness is what should be kept in mind in times of such tragedy.