By Melissa McCutchan
CIU Student Writer
The stage in Columbia International University’s Hoke Auditorium was transformed into a 1935 small town in Alabama as the CIU Players performed Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” from "April 17-19.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” tells the story of small town life and racial tensions in fictional Maycomb, Alabama primarily from the perspective of young Jean-Louise Finch (played by CIU freshman Anne Ateca).
Her father Atticus Finch (junior Nik Ellison) is a lawyer who is appointed to defend a young African-American man, Tom Robinson (freshman Devyn Williams), who is accused of attacking a white girl. As the trial escalates before Jean-Louise’s eyes, and racial tensions become more apparent, she realizes that her small town isn’t as perfect as it seems, nor is her father as mild as she once thought.
While the CIU Players have stuck to more lighthearted plays and musicals in recent years, junior Bethany Stewart and senior Jacob Calder, who co-directed the play, wanted to try a play with more serious overtones.
“We felt that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ carried a message that was still relevant today, both within the culture and within the church,” Stewart said.
As opening night approached, the CIU Players had their work cut out from them. From early morning rehearsals to late nights in Hoke Auditorium, the cast worked hard to learn lines, rehearse, and build their set.
“It's been such a fun ride working through scenes, brainstorming through dialogue options and seeing the cast really get into the characters we imagined for them,” Calder said.
For many in the cast, they felt that their characters had hidden depth, and took the time to “become” their characters in order to communicate that depth to the audience.
“In many ways, Atticus is the embodiment of wisdom,” Ellison said. “I feel like, in playing his role and memorizing his words, I've taken a little piece of his character with me.”
The Players performed in three shows, and each time the audience expressed their appreciation for the Players’ hard work and communication of a powerful message.
“The performances have gone so smoothly and I think our audiences have been impressed,” said junior Courtney Reasoner, who played 19-year-old Mayella Ewell. “We’re growing as a program and the school is going to expect better and better from us. It’s really cool to be a part of (the CIU Players).”
Check out the CIU Flickr page for more photos from CIU student photographer Christine Benz at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciuimpact/sets/72157651696102678/