The play I am going to discuss is “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I saw this at the Lowry Centre in Manchester. The cast consisted of 8 actors, 2 of which particularly stood out to me and captivated the audience for the duration of the performance. The play is based in Maycomb County, a small town in the Southern states of the U. S. in the 20th Century. It is a very racially prejudice society and one of the biggest underlying themes in the play is racism.
One of the characters I am going to be discussing is Atticus Finch, and elderly lawyer and a lifelong citizen of Maycomb County. The whole play is based on Atticus’s court case, which happens to be defending a Black man – Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white girl. The other actor who particularly stood out to me was Scout Finch, Atticus’s daughter. In this essay I will be discussing these actors and how they impressed me throughout the play. The first actor I am referring to is Scout Finch, in the first scene.
The stage is empty apart from an old wagon tipped up in the corner and gravel littering the floor. The whole cast comes on stage and starts singing gospel music. This really sets an atmosphere, and really makes you feel like you are there, with them. Scout is in the middle of the cast, and whilst the other actors are singing, she takes a step out in front of the cast and begins to speak. She speaks in a very high-pitched southern American voice, which is perfectly fitting to the play, as Scout is only eight years old.
Scout is wearing a pair of worn dungarees, and she keeps her hands firmly gripped onto the straps of her dungarees, making her look naive and vulnerable. She looks nervous as she speaks, you can tell this by the way that she fiddles with her fingers, and runs her hands up and down the straps as she talks. She turns her feet inward when she talks and I think this added to the scene in a massive way, as this is exactly how an eight year old would act if they were talking in front of the rest of their town.
The use of space whilst Scout is singing is great, as the whole cast singing in the background shows that all the members of their village are singing together, in harmony. When Scout steps out in front of them it shows that she is independent girl who doesn’t mind telling everyone how she feels. Scout looks happy whilst she is talking – she is smiling and wide-eyed. This proves to the audience that Scout is a very good public speaker and likes people to hear what she’s saying. Scout recites briefly her life story, like where she grew up, who she’s friends with and what she does in her spare time.
By looking happy whilst saying this she is showing us that she is happy with her life. Another key scene in the play that emphasises the reality of Scout’s acting is when Atticus is teaching Scout not to be prejudice to others, which is an important them throughout the play. Scout was talking in her normal eight year old voice – high pitched, American and quite loud. However, in contrast to this, Atticus talks in a soothing, calm, low voice, which eventually makes Scout calm down a little.
A very realistic atmosphere is set here, as this is the exact way that a father would talk to his daughter. The use of body language also adds to the effect of everyday father – daughter relationships. Scout is sitting on Atticus’s knee and looking at him with wide eyes and a smile – showing respect and admiration for her Father. We can also see that Scout respects her father by the way they call him “Sir” when talking to him. The two actors are very close at this point, showing the tight relationship between the two characters.
The two maintained direct eye contact all the way through Atticus’s speech, and that showed just how much Scout respects her father and was concentrating on what he had to say, because a normal eight year old wouldn’t have kept concentrating for that long unless they were really interested in what they were being told. Scout doesn’t seem to mind sitting on Atticus’s knee, it doesn’t seem to occur to her that it might seem childish – she seems to be happy with how close she is to her father, as she has a smile on her face all the way through the scene, and listens thoroughly when Atticus speaks.
Despite the fact that the two characters are already very close during the play, Scout emphasises the fact that she is really listening to Atticus by leaning slightly towards him when he talks. This shows us just how much she treasures what he’s saying to her and how much she is interested in what he’s telling her – which again emphasises the reality of how much she respects her father, Atticus. Atticus is the second performer who I felt made a positive impact on the audience.
Atticus is a very intelligent, well – respected lawyer by all and I think that he was portrayed very well throughout the play. At one point in the play, Scout’s nanny – Calpurnia claims that she has seen a “Mad Dog” coming down the main street, towards Maycomb County. This causes a huge stir throughout the town, and all of the citizens of Maycomb come to gather outside Atticus’s house to see what all the fuss is about. Each one of the characters is saying that “someone should shoot it… ” but none of them are brave enough to do so, and so Atticus steps forward.
The whole town goes quiet, which creates an atmosphere of suspense among the audience. Atticus is handed a gun by the Sheriff and he steps forward out of the crowd and looks towards the dog. He has his head held high, and doesn’t look nervous which shows that he has a lot of self-confidence and believes in himself. Everyone is watching Atticus and no-one talks, which would put more pressure on Atticus but he doesn’t seem to mind, as he appears to be fixated on his task, showing that he doesn’t get distracted easily and is taking his job seriously.
He lifts the gun up to his eye but his glasses are in the way, so he lifts them up to rest on his head. He lifts the gun up again but his glasses fall down, and so Atticus takes off his glasses and drops them on the floor. This makes a cracking noise, which breaks the silence of the town and makes people jump. Atticus goes straight back to his job, showing that he is focusing greatly on this task and not letting anything get in his way. He aims the gun directly and pulls the trigger, successfully killing the dog that seemed to terrorise his town.
This shows that Atticus sees himself as one of the wiser men of Maycomb, and he likes to put himself first when protecting others, showing that he is very generous and thinks of others before himself. Another key moment for Atticus, and for the entire play, is when Atticus is in court defending Tom Robinson. There is a very tense atmosphere in the courtroom, as the whole of Maycomb County is gathered there to see the final verdict. No one speaks, as this is against the laws in court, and the only voice heard is Atticus’s as he interrogates the witnesses and the victim.
Atticus talks in very low, calming tones and talks precisely, which shows that he knows what he’s doing. This proves to the audience that Atticus takes his job very seriously and has obviously had a lot of experience in this and he knows what he’s doing. Atticus is well aware of the space around him, and he walks around the courtroom confidently – with his head held high and his chest sticking out, as if he is proving his status to the defendant.
This shows us again that Atticus has a lot of self-confidence and belief in himself that he can win this court case. Atticus’s facial expressions show how he is really feeling because when he looks at Tom he raises his eyebrows and has a down-turned mouth, showing that he has sympathy for him. Overall I think that both characters I have studied were played excellently and that neither of them could improve anymore, as they made the play very realistic.