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"To Kill A Mockingbird"--an American Classic at the Pollard

Elizabeth Hurd Published: February 17, 2013

Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is a coming of age tale told through the eyes of the children Scout, Jem, and Dill. The story explores the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class as Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is faced with defending a black man charged with the rape of a white woman in rural Alabama. The Pollard Theatre is presenting the show in Guthrie, February 22-March 16.

First, some local context: In 1962, a new Junior-Senior High School was opening in central Oklahoma. A 29 year-old librarian and Home Economics teacher was ordered by the principal to remove a book from the shelves because the story had to do with a white woman and a black man. The librarian reportedly said she would not be part of a library that would ban that book. She told the principal that he could just fire her on the spot. Instead, the principal backed down and “To Kill a Mockingbird” remained a part of the school library.

It also remains a significant experience in the theatre, and this month The Pollard Theater will proudly present this American classic. “To Kill a Mockingbird” opens Friday evening, February 22, and runs through Saturday, March 16, with shows Thursday-Saturday evenings and two Sunday matinees.

Rehearsal Photo from the Pollard's production of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Rehearsal Photo from the Pollard's production of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Director W. Jerome Stevenson has a great affinity for the story and believes the show will be one of the most important of the Pollard’s 26 year history. “One of the best-loved stories of all time,” Stevenson explained, “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ has earned the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, as well as spawned an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century. ‘Mockingbird’ is one of those stories with the ability to reach across dividing lines—race, gender, generations, etc.—to connect people to one another. I believe audiences are going to be touched by this story in a lasting way and I can’t wait for them to experience it.”

Patrons will find the show’s cast to be a diverse cross-section of Pollard veterans as well as some faces new to this Guthrie stage. The cast of “To Kill a Mockingbird” includes James A. Hughes, Lane Fields, James Ong, Lance Reese, Gwendolyn Evans, Emily Brown, David Fletcher-Hall, De’Vin Lewis, Beverly Caviness, Cory King, Ben Bates, and a small army of featured performers. Matthew Maloy, Harry Simpson, and Alexandria Grable play the three children Jem, Dill, and Scout.

Back to our Oklahoma librarian: The young woman who stood her ground and insisted that this important work remain part of a school library was this writer’s mother. Support the committed librarians and teachers who have brought so many difficult classics to students through the years, and come to see “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Curtain is at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Purchase tickets through the Pollard Box Office at (405) 282-2800 or online at Special online only ticket prices are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. A Student Rush ticket price of $10.00 is available for each performance. Students must present their Student IDs and cash at the Box Office to take advantage of this special price.

Don’t miss this amazing production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”—an American classic!

—Kim Mahoney