Venice Theater Revives and Expands ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

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Harper Lee’s beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird, dramatized by Christopher Sergel, will be on Friday, April 15 at The Jervie Theatre at the Venetian Theatre opens and will run until Sunday, May 1st.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the coming-of-age saga of a young girl named Scooter, during which her youthful idealism and naive picture of the world awakens to the harsh realities of racist Jim Crow South . As he defends an innocent man accused of a horrific crime, she learns a lesson in her father, Atticus, of stern morals and tolerance. Her understanding of human nature and her outlook on life expands as she encounters the adult world and begins to understand its capacity for cruelty and injustice. She began to understand that not everyone in her community had the courage to do the right thing.

Venice Theatre Artistic Director Benny Sato Ambush completed the play with the support of a strong creative team and a cast of 40, many of whom volunteered as extras for courtroom scenes. The central question Mr. Ambush encourages his company to consider is this: Given the human capacity to do evil, can one live a life of empathy, compassion, empathy, and maintain a belief in the human capacity for goodness without becoming cynical?

He invites the audience to ponder the same question, while noting themes of honor based on personal merit, courage, human dignity, and the juxtaposition between kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice, bravery and cowardice.

Mr. Ambush said: “To Kill a Mockingbird is far from being an elegant, quaint chapter in modern history, but a relic of a bygone era. The great cause of our country – the realization of a truly fair multiracial democracy, in practice and enforcing “equal justice under the law” – is an unfulfilled desire. Our creative team has been inspiring, thought-provoking, alarming, outrageous, and at the same time in the process of researching and staging this play. Full of hope.”

Telling this familiar story with fresh eyes are Venice theatre newcomer and Pine View sixth grader Dylan Grantham as Boy Scout; Jim Floyd as her father Atticus Finch; Van Force Dinverno as her brother Jem; Suzanne Custer as Jean Louise Finch, Scooter’s adult self, Tells her memories of Alabama in 1935. The court case centers on Alfred Redmond as Tom Robinson and Haley Hines as Mayella Ewell.

One way for Mr. Ambush to expand the narrative is to have more actors representing the black community who would have experienced trials on court balconies.

“The whole community would be involved in such a compelling trial,” he said.

Shows are Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30 pm and 2 pm Saturday matinee has been added on April 16 at 2 pm, with no performances on Easter Sunday, April 17. Tickets are fast, $28 for adults, $20 for college students, and $15 for teens up to grade 12. Available online at www.venicetheatre.org or by calling the box office at 941-488-1115.

Tickets to all Venice Theatre events through June 2022, as well as subscriptions for the 2022-23 season, can be purchased at the Box Office at 941-488-1115 or online at www.venicetheatre.org. The Venice Theater is located at 140 Tampa Avenue on Venice Island. The box office is currently closed to the public. Theater doors open one hour before screenings. ¦

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