A Note From Director Marcella Kearns: MOCKINGBIRD

Marcella Kearns
In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, widower and lawyer Atticus Finch defends an innocent man who is condemned and lost because of a vicious racial divide. His children, Jem and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, try to make sense of the senselessness. In the end, innocence, kindness, and an attempt to protect one another persist both within their family and, to a nominal degree, within their community.

Innocence, kindness, and an attempt to protect one another don’t always prevail, but they do persist.

In Kathryn Erskine’s novel MOCKINGBIRD, a 21st-century Atticus and Scout of sorts have lost their Jem to a shocking act of violence. Erskine’s Scout and our narrator, Caitlin, navigates another community’s journey through tragedy and healing even as she herself strives to find her own place among them. It’s a tough road as, by her very nature, she views and experiences the world radically differently than others around her. Nevertheless, she’s accustomed to “Working At It,” and she’s persistent. Her path to understanding may even accelerate the healing of those around her.

In response to the tragedy that in part inspired Erskine’s novel, the poet Nikki Giovanni said, “We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness… We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail.”

May Caitlin’s tenacity in seeking closure and learning empathy serve as a guidepost for us as we all try to view the world from others’ eyes.

Kearns and cast at a Mockingbird rehearsal
I’d like to offer special thanks to the families of our fearless young performers and the entire MOCKINGBIRD team. Many thanks as well to Julie Quigley, the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, First Stage’s Next Steps creators, and Brenna Kempf, whose instruction and candor provided a platform for our young performers to explore and begin to understand the experience of autism. 

-Marcella Kearns

MOCKINGBIRD opens Friday, March 24 and runs through April 9, 2017 at the Marcus Center's Todd Wehr Theater.

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