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TKM Constructed Response Stage Productions


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									                         To Kill a Mockingbird Constructed Response
   'MOCKINGBIRD' RISES LIKE A PHOENIX                       "The play is taken from a beloved novel with a known
                                                            title," says Charles Morin of Salt Lake's Pioneer Theatre
There it sits on American Theatre's top-ten list of the
                                                            Company, a theatre looking forward to producing the
season's most popular plays, nestled amidst very
                                                            work later this spring. "And yet people have never seen
contemporary dramatic studies of abortion, sexual
                                                            it on stage. That's an unbeatable combination at the
harassment and talkative hostages; beating out the
                                                            box office."
crooning of men in checked jackets and the
autobiographical musings of Broadway's most                 The piece also still appears on many middle- and high-
commercial comic playwright. To the surprise of many,       school curricula, making it a big seller for educational
To Kill a Mockingbird, Christopher Sergel's                 groups. In short, Mockingbird allows resident
adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel,    companies to address issues of diversity and, as it rams
is the third most-produced play in America's regional       out, to make a little money: "It's a play with literary
theatres this season.                                       merit that makes a strong statement," affirms M.
                                                            Christopher Boyer, director of the A.D. Players'
On the surface, the sudden popularity of such a
                                                            production. "And it sells like hot-cakes."
venerable classic appears perplexing. After all, Lee's
novel was first published in 1960 and Sergel's faithful,    More than 15 million copies of Lee's novel have been
workmanlike dramatization had little professional           printed, meaning that the work has considerable
impact when it first appeared, even though it has been      resonance for the millions of people who read it as a
a staple of high school and some college seasons for        child. And that includes those kids that grew up to be
the past 25 years. Produce this play and you must           artistic directors. "I have a special place in my heart for
compete with the audience's memory of the impressive        the play because I read it in eighth grade," says New
1962 Academy Award-winning film. As well as a               Stage's Steven David Martin. "And as trite as it may
distinguished screenplay by Horton Foote, Robert            sound, it really did change the way I looked at things."
Mulligan's often-broadcast movie features a much-
celebrated performance by Gregory Peck in the central       …Many directors say that they feel that the themes and
role of Atticus Finch, the white lawyer who defends an      characters of the play are still, sadly, very relevant and
African American from trumped-up rape charges in the        familiar -the Barter's Richard Rose says that "you could
small-town Alabama of the 1930s.                            literally do an environmental production right here and
                                                            now in Abingdon, Virginia." The recent political debates
…Audiences are showing up in huge numbers. From             over so-called family values have obviously set many
California to Mississippi and Cleveland to Phoenix,         theatres thinking about their role as a shaper of
theatres have been making a killing at the box office.      community morality. And that may well be one of the
At the New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss.,                 reasons why Harper Lee's ideas are suddenly so
Mockingbird was the best-attended production in             popular.
years, selling out most performances and obliging the
theatre to add extra school matinees. The piece             …"This is an emotional play, not a political one,"
grossed some $80,000 during a seven-week run at             asserts Towers. "But at the same time, there are ugly
Houston's A.D. Players, well exceeding projections and      events that take place in the play that should never be
selling at over 70 percent of capacity. There was such      forgotten." If the current spate of well-attended
interest at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va. that no     revivals continues, the theatrical trial of Tom Robinson
tickets were available for any performance after            in Maycomb, Ala. is destined to be very much
opening day in October--to meet the demand, 10              remembered.
shows were scheduled during the last week of the five-
week run. On average, 150 people per day were turned
away.                                                       ~~~~~~~~

…So what are the reasons for the play's sudden              By Chris Jones
popularity? High profile (and lucrative) recent
productions at major resident theatres like the Denver      Chris Jones reviews midwestern regional theatre for
Center Theatre Company and the Actors Theatre of            Variety.
Louisville have spawned interest elsewhere for this
season, but there is more to this piece's popularity than
 To Kill a Mockingbird has recently revived in popularity on the stage. Thoroughly describe two reasons from
      the reading that explain this phenomenon. Use details from the reading to support your response.

Scoring Guide
SCORE                                       DESCRIPTION
     4      Answer correctly and thoroughly describes two reasons that To Kill a
            Mockingbird has revived in popularity on the stage and uses many details from
            the text.
     3      Answer correctly and briefly describes two reasons that To Kill a Mockingbird
            has revived in popularity on the stage and uses a few details from the text.
     2      Answer states two reasons, or thoroughly describes one reason that To Kill a
            Mockingbird has revived in popularity on the stage. Few details are used.
      1         Answer alludes to a reason that To Kill a Mockingbird has revived in popularity
                on the stage. No details are provided.
     0          Student’s response is totally incorrect or irrelevant.
   Blank        No student response.

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