To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Scout Finch, a young girl who comes of age in the Alabama during the 1930s. It's also the story of her father, Atticus Finch, a white defense attorney who takes on the case of a black man accused of rape. Beyond this, it's a story of the Depression-era American South: a hotbed of disputed morals, gender inequality, and racial injustice.
To Kill a Mockingbird has been interpreted in a multitude of ways, including the 1962 film, made just two years after the novel's publication. But it took nearly sixty years for the story to come to Broadway. This new stage adaptation, which debuted on Broadway in 2018, is distinct for more than a few reasons. The script has been written by Aaron Sorkin, an award-winning television writer (The West Wing, The Newsroom, Sports Night). The roles of Scout, ten, and her thirteen-year-old brother are played by grown adults. The undisputed heroism of Atticus Finch receives a closer examination.
Most of all, this play is notable for its timing. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the 1930s and was published in 1960. Today, the questions it asks resound just as loudly, though differently. Why is racial injustice so entrenched in American culture? How does our society treat allegations of sexual violence? How can children challenge the stories they hear, whether from the old-fashioned rumor mill or social media? To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway doesn't answer these questions, but it makes its audience attuned to them.