Canebrake Players hold auditions for ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Auditions for the Canebrake Players’ upcoming drama “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be held Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. and Monday, May 6 at 6 p.m. at the Old School on Main. A read-through is expected to take place on May 13.

The play is dramatized by Christopher Sergel and based on the novel of the same name by Alabama-native Harper Lee. It features one of the larger casts for dramas that the Canebrake Players have performed. In all, twenty characters are called for in this production.

Director Susanna Naisbett said the challenge with casting comes from the large male cast required for the play. Typically, plays have just a few male characters. “To Kill a Mockingbird” has 12.

She also considers the timing to be right thanks to the Broadway version of the play opening in December 2018.

“I think the Broadway production has given this play a lot of attention, and I think this is a good time to do it,” she said.

Naisbett said it is overwhelming to take on a play that explores a theme as heavy as racial inequality but that the work remains as relevant as ever despite decades having passed since the book was first published in 1960.

She also said she hopes the cultural and literary importance of “To Kill a Mockingbird” will draw large and diverse crowds to its showings on July 19-22. Naisbett especially wants young viewers to have a better understanding to the time period that the book and play are set in.

“I think it’s important to put it in front of them,” she said

“To Kill a Mockingbird” follows the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape, through the eyes of Scout Finch, the six-year-old daughter of Tom’s lawyer Atticus Finch. The novel also tells the coming-of-age story of Scout as it ties to the trial and her curiosity of the town’s recluse Boo Radley. It is set during the Great Depression in the fictional Maycomb, Alabama.

The Old School on Main is located on the corner of Main and Pettus street in Demopolis.

Characters include:

-Scout. She is courageous, forthright and a tomboy.  If a question occurs to her, she’ll ask it. Age range 8-12.

-Jem. Scout’s brother. He struggles to understand their unusual and unconventionally-admirable father.  Age range 11-15.

-Dill. Friend to Scout and Jem, he is a happy boy who is wise beyond his years.  Age range 9-13.

-Jean Louise. Narrator. She’s Scout, grown older, looking back on the time she was the young Scout.  Age range 30’s.

-Atticus. He’s tall, quietly impressive, reserved, civilized, courageous without heroics, and he does what he considers just. As someone comments about him, “we trust him to do right.” Age range 40’s.

-Calpurnia. Black, proud, self-educated and capable, she has raised Scout and Jem.  Her standards are high and her discipline as applied to Scout and Jem is uncompromising. Age range 30’s/40’s.

-Maudie Atkinson. Neighbor to the Finches. A lovely sensitive woman of Atticus’ generation. Age range 40’s/50’s.

-Walter Cunningham. A hard up farmer who shares the prejudices of this time and place, but who is nevertheless a man who can be reached as a human being. Age range 30’s/40’s/50’s.

-Reverend Sykes. He is the black minister of the First Purchase Church, called that because it was paid for with the first money earned by freed slaves. He is an imposing man with a strong stage presence and should have a strong “minister’s” voice.  Age range 30’s/40’s/50’s.

-Heck Tate. Heck is the town sheriff. He does his duty as he sees it, and enforces the law without favor. Age range 30’s/40’s/50’s.

-Stephanie Crawford. She’s the neighborhood gossip, and she enjoys it to the hilt. Sometimes she says things that are petty, but partly it’s because she simply can’t keep herself from stirring things up.  Age range 40’s/50’s.

-Nathan Radley.  He is a thin, leathery laconic man and brother to Boo. Age range 40’s/50’s.

-Boo Radley. Arthur Radley is a recluse who hasn’t been outside his house in 15 years. It takes an extraordinary emergency to bring him out. Age range 40’s/50’s.

-Mrs Dubose. She is an old woman – ill, walking with difficulty, her pain making her biting, bitter, and angry.  Age range 60 +

-Tom Robinson. Robinson is a handsome and vital black man, but with a left hand crippled by a childhood accident. He faces up to a false charge with quiet dignity. There’s an undercurrent in him of kindness, sensitivity, and consideration.  Age range 20’s/30’s.

-Helen Robinson. Tom’s wife, she is numb with the shock of the false charge against her husband.  Age range 20’s/30’s.

-Judge Taylor. He does what he can within the context of his time to see justice done in his court. While he tries to run his court impartially, his sympathy is with Tom.  Age range 40’s/50’s/60’s.

-Mr. Gilmer. He is the public prosecutor who is doing his job in trying to convict Tom. In many ways his manner is cruel and hurtful. And yet, he has unexpressed doubts as to Tom’s guilt. Still, he goes after it and it’s a hard thing. Age range 30’s/40’s/50’s.

-Bob Ewell. He is a little bantom -cock of a man who lives with his children by the town dump. He thinks this trial will make him an important man. Age range 40’s/50’s/60’s.

-Mayella. The oldest daughter of Bob Ewell, she’s a desperately lonely and overworked young woman whose need for companionship has overwhelmed every other emotion. When her effort to reach out explodes in her face, she fights for what she thinks is survival.   Age range late teens/early 20’s.