To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the school’s founding, the Fort Scott Community College theater department is bringing a powerful modern classic to the stage as its first production of the season.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center on the FSCC campus. Additional performances are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Show times are Friday, October 18, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 19, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 20 at 2 p.m.
Based on Harper Lee’s all-time best-selling novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which is required reading in many middle- and high-school classrooms, the stage play (by Christopher Sergel) is an equally searing indictment of society in the 1930s as it pertained to race relations in this country.
“It is not a pretty story,” said Allen Twitchell, FSCC’s director of theater, “but it is a story that needs to be told and re-told until we, as a society, get it right. The entire play is a protest; a protest against racism, hatred, bigotry, intolerance and inequality.
“I wanted to offer something meaningful for our centennial year celebration, and they don’t come any more meaningful than this. In fact, it’s probably the most important play I’ve ever had a hand in staging.”
The story centers on Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of assaulting a white girl in a small Alabama town in 1935, and Atticus Finch, a white attorney and the only person willing to defend him.
Playing the role of Atticus is Anthony Oneri, a freshman from Gardner, while sophomore Marcus Robinson of Paola portrays Tom.
The cast also includes Cadence Tuck as Scout and Andrew Lyon as Jem, the children of the widowed Atticus, and Ben Davenport as Dill, a runaway who befriends them. All three attend Fort Scott Middle School.
Other cast members are: Jazmin Havens, freshman from Pittsburg, as Calpurnia, the Finch maid; Colton Hofer, sophomore from Fort Scott, as prosecuting attorney Mr. Gilmer and down-street neighbor Boo Radley; Grace Springer, senior at Jayhawk-Linn high school, as Mayella Ewell, the “victim”; Meaghan Hay, sophomore from Fort Scott, as nosey neighbor Miss Maudie; Annabelle Moore, freshman from Lyndon, as self-righteous neighbor Miss Stephanie; Abby Sweat, freshman from Pleasanton, as mean-spirited neighbor Mrs. Dubose; Mikiylah Gonzales, freshman from Fort Scott, as the kindly Rev. Sykes for the Friday performance and Connor Chiarelli, freshman from Belton, Mo., in that role Saturday and Sunday; and Isabella Loyd, freshman from Fort Scott, as the court clerk and the understudy for all female roles.
In addition, the cast includes guest artists Tony Wagner as Sheriff Heck Tate and Harold Hicks as Judge Taylor and townsperson Walter Cunningham. Twitchell is playing the role of Bob Ewell, the accuser’s venomous and vengeful father.
Phoenix Burk, freshman from Pittsburg, is stage manager for the production and fills the roles of several minor characters, and Michael Woodward, sophomore from Fulton, serves as sound designer and engineer for the production.
Designing and running the lights for the show is Jason Huffman of Pittsburg.
The play does contain offensive language.
“I guarantee you that no one in this cast wanted to use words like that to disparage fellow human beings,” said Twitchell. “But, you really can’t tell this story without doing that. To water it down in any way would subvert the truth and minimize the message that racism is wrong – on every level .”