Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mockingbird Auditions Monday Night!

Auditions for the Sugar Creek Players Production of To Kill a Mockingbird will be Monday, February 28 and Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. The theater will be open at around 6:15 p.m. We'll fill out some forms and get started on stage around 6:45 p.m.

Audition Dates: Monday, February 28 and Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. 
Location: The Vanity Theater, 122 South Washington Street, Crawfordsville, IN.
Production Dates: April 15-17 and April 21-23
Directed by Jim Amidon

Auditioners do not need to prepare in advance; we will read speeches from the play. There are adult roles for at least seven women and ten men:

Jean Louise Finch — Scout all grown up and the play’s narrator. (This is a very large role.)
Atticus Finch — A reserved, civilized southern lawyer; Scout and Jem’s single father. 
Calpurnia — The Finches’ housemaid; a proud, disciplined Black woman; surrogate mother.
Maudie Atkinson — A lovely, sensitive southern woman about the same age as Atticus.
Walter Cunningham — A hard-working, poor farmer who demonstrates both prejudice and sensitivity.
Reverend Sykes — The Black minister of First Purchase Church; strong-voiced.
Heck Tate — The town sheriff who does his duty without favor.
Stephanie Crawford — The enthusiastic neighborhood gossip.
Bob Ewell — A poor little man who thinks he’ll become famous after Tom’s conviction; he’s a man filled with rage.
Mayella Ewell — The oldest daughter of Bob Ewell who is desperate and lonely.
Nathan Radley — The thin, leathery neighbor of the Finches.
Arthur “Boo” Radley — A mysterious recluse who hasn’t been seen in years.
Mrs. Dubose — A bitter, old, ill woman who is a neighbor of the Finches.
Tom Robinson — Tom is a strong Black man with a crippled left hand; kind and sensitive.
Helen Robinson — Tom’s wife and the mother of young children; numb from shock.
Mr. Gilmer — The public prosecutor who pursue’s Tom Robinson’s conviction.
Judge Taylor — A good, honest judge who, like many, struggles to overcome the prejudice of the day.
Mob & Courtroom Crowd — There are several non-speaking or limited roles for people watching the trial and men in a mob.


Children's roles have been cast.  We're excited to have been working for the last month with:

Conner Smith as Jem Finch
Sammie Amidon as Scout Finch
Trey Rogers as Dill

Friday, February 25, 2011

Maycomb, Alabama — circa 1935

It's a GREAT weekend for theater in Montgomery County!

The Sugar Creek Players wrap up their two-week run of seven straight SOLD OUT PERFORMANCES of The Wizard of Oz, directed by Tyler Bernet and produced by Amy Woodall.

Also wrapping this weekend is the Wabash College Theater's production of Sam Shepard's epic A Lie of the Mind. We saw A Lie of the Mind last night (it is — in a word — stunning) and we are seeing Wizard tonight. And with auditions for Mockingbird Monday, it's all-theater all the time.

While at A Lie of the Mind at Wabash last night, we bumped into James Gross, the amazingly talented scenic designer and technical theater professor at Wabash College. James worked on a production of Mockingbird years ago, and shared some ideas of how we might simplify Maycomb on the Vanity stage. We're honored and thrilled that James has agreed to help us think through our options as we bring our depression-era town to life for Mockingbird in Crawfordsville.

James will be helpful because his mind sees a story and sees a space and can make miracles happen. He's created Victorian-era mansions and desolate Arctic landscapes. But he might be facing his biggest challenge yet!

The Vanity Theater is a wonderful space, but it is a narrow stage on which to mount a production like To Kill a Mockingbird. The grand old building the Sugar Creek Players have called home since 1988 seats over 160 and includes wonderful dressing and make-up rooms, improved storage for our costumes and props, and a terrific wood room upstairs.

But it's narrow — roughly 11 seats wide with aisles down each side. That gives us less than 25 feet of stage space to build our Maycomb, Alabama. If we are true to Christopher Sergel's excellent script, the Finch home will be stage right, the Radley home stage left, and the neighbors straight in the back of the stage. But we simply don't have room for four houses!

And that's why we're honored that James has agreed to give us some advice. The good news is that we have a story so strong, it needs little in the way of theatricality. The better news is that James can help us make the most if this wonderful opportunity.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Miss Maudie

Thursday — We were rehearsing the kids this afternoon — Jem, Scout, and Dill — and two of us were covering lines for all the other characters in the play. We came to an exchange between Scout, Jem, and Miss Maudie.

Scout and Jem, who are only beginning to appreciate their father, realize that Atticus has lost the court case.

Miss Maudie's most important line ran chills up our spines.

Miss Maudie: "... Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying your father the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right."

Scout: "Then why did he get beat?"

Miss Maudie: "Miss Stephanie talks nonsense. Maybe he didn't get an acquittal, but he got something. I was sitting in court waiting, and as I waited, I thought — Atticus Finch won't win, he can't win, but he's the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like this. And I thought to myself, take note of this time and this place. It's 1935 and it's Maycomb, Alabama, and we're making a step — it's just a baby-step, but it's a step... (She takes a break and collects herself.) I'm going into my kitchen now, and I'm going to make a cake. And I'd be pleased if you'd all come over later and have some of my cake."

Scout: "Yes, Miss Maudie."

Jem: "Thank you."

Miss Maudie: "Miister Dill?"

Dill: "Yes — I'll come. thank you. I better stop over to Aunt Rachel. (Pauses. Considering.) They trust him to do right..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strange Fruit

With auditions just a few days away, we're beginning to pull together the images, music, and themes that will guide the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill A Mockingbird.

People have asked us frequently about music: Will there be pre-show music? Will it be period music? What about Gospel? Shouldn't there be a banjo?

A good friend suggested we start with Billie Holliday's Strange Fruit, which she recorded at various times throughout her career. The lyrics come directly from Abe Meeropol's vivid poem of the same name, penned in 1939. We're told that Meeropol, born in a Jewish family and living in New York, saw a photo of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, which Meeropol said "haunted him." The poem he wrote is equally haunting.

After he saw Billie Holliday perform, Meeropol showed her the poem, which she recorded in 1939. The song rose to number 16 on the charts — which is both fantastic and sad, given the subject matter. When we watched the You Tube video, we were blown away.

People born after the 1970s often wonder "what life was really like way back then." To get a sense of what life was like for Scout and Jem Finch in Maycomb, Alabama in 1935, one need look no farther than Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday.

While we don't know exactly how this music will be used in our production of Mockingbird, it will be used and it will be discussed to help all of us understand where we were and how far we've come.

Strange Fruit (Abe Meeropol, 1939)

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Auditions Set for Feb. 28 & March 1

February 22, 2011 — We're thrilled to announce that auditions for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird will be Monday, February 28 and Tuesday, March 1. Auditions will held at the Vanity Theater (122 South Washington Street, Crawfordsville) and will begin at 6:30 p.m. each evening.

There are roles for at least 10 men and seven women; children's parts have been cast. Actors need not prepare in advance of auditions; we will read speeches and scenes from the play.

We're happy to be working with the marvelous script written by Christopher Sergel, which is based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Sergel penned two versions of this classic story. The script we're using includes a large role for an adult actress — Jean Louise Finch (Scout as an adult grown up and looking back at her childhood).

If necessary, call backs will be held Wednesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Vanity Theater. A cast list will be posted here and at the Vanity Theater on Thursday, March 3. Our first cast meeting, pizza dinner, and read through will be held Sunday, March 6 at 5:00 p.m.

Production dates for the Sugar Creek Players' production of To Kill a Mockingbird are April 15-17 and April 21-23, 2011. The play is directed by Jim Amidon, produced by Jerry Bowie and Nancy Rodenbeck, and generously sponsored by Hoosier Heartland State Bank.