By Samika Parab, senior
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a familiar piece to the vast majority of JP students who have had the opportunity to read the classic in their English classes. Now, thanks to JP’s theatre company, Scout, Jem, and Atticus Finch are no longer just names on a page – they have been brought to life through this year’s fall production of To Kill a Mockingbird. From November 12 to November 21, the theatre company came together to put on multiple and equally spectacular performances.
The quality of these performances is a product of months of after-school and nighttime practices, a fact that the To Kill a Mockingbird cast attests to. Senior Marisa Campione, who starred as the grown-up Jean Louise Finch, elaborated, “Memorizing all the lines and trying to find a character without being able to interact with anyone was definitely a challenge. Nevertheless, I loved every bit of this challenge!” Most cast members, like Marisa, agree that memorization and execution of lines took a lot of time and patience. But, the immense workload did not make the process any less enjoyable. In fact, it served as a crucial learning experience for these budding actors.
Of course, cast members are not the only people who contributed to the success of the production. The lighting, sound, and technical aspects of the show are credited to the crew. Although they linger behind the curtains or in the sound booth during the performance, their presence directly impacts the authenticity of the show. After all, the set, which consisted of life-size houses and Scout’s signature tree swing, did not just appear out of thin air.There were many challenges associated with the construction of a mini Maycomb. “Building the set took countless hours after school,” commented senior Tara Shukla, president of the theatre company. “We had to make sure the proportions of the buildings were right and that the wood was assembled correctly. The art crew had to make sure that the visuals popped out and seemed as realistic as possible. Everyone had a part to play, and we’re so successful because everyone plays their part right.”
While constructing the props was indeed a challenge, the production of To Kill a Mockingbird was a little less hectic for other departments. Technical director and sound head, senior Hannah Xue, added, “This show was easier for me because there were no mics involved. It was a relaxing start to my tenure as technical director.” Nevertheless, controlling sound effects still served as a significant source of stress for her and the rest of the sound crew. Timing these effects with light and stage cues is always a challenge, but the crew was able to accomplish this feat seamlessly, especially during the horrifying scene in the woods when Jem and Scout are attacked.
The cast and crew’s hard work did not fail to shine through during showtime. The audience was moved by both the strong acting and stunning visual effects. The play revolves around an adult Scout reflecting on the key events of her childhood, particularly her lawyer father’s defense of a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. The play not only depicts the intensity of a universal issue such as racism in a post-Jim Crow South but also the strong family bonds that form in times of crisis.
“I was surprised by how much better I understood To Kill a Mockingbird after watching the play,” said senior Michelle Qiou, an audience member. “I could really feel Scout’s curiosity, Jem’s fear, and Atticus’s defiance. I wasn’t just watching the story unfold; I was a part of it.”
Presenting a classic like To Kill a Mockingbird is a challenge indeed, but JP’s Theatre Company rose to the occasion. With the right touches of humor and grief, playfulness and compassion, cast and crew members put together an emotionally-charged, energetic spectacle that left audiences entranced. As senior Priya Mukherjee, who played Mrs. Dubose, put it, “I’ve been part of the theatre company for so long, there was no play more perfect than To Kill a Mockingbird to start my senior year with.”