Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT), the State Professional Theatre of West Virginia, is proud to announce the success of its To Kill a Mockingbird school matinees, offered to students in Greenbrier and surrounding counties in West Virginia and Virginia.
With 20 schools taking advantage of this experience, over 1,400 students were exposed to live theatre through the professional production of one of the most important pieces of American literature. Their response was tremendously positive.
“Audiences were very receptive to the show. During the courtroom scene, without fail, you could hear a pin drop. It showed there was overwhelming sympathy for Tom Robinson and a profound sense of injustice in the court system,” GVT Education Director Courtney Susman said.
Given the opportunity to sit down with the actors, students were free to ask any questions related to the production, and the variety was remarkable. The actors shared their experiences and challenges in covering such a painful topic with honesty and compassion.
“I believe the open dialogue between the students and the actors was the most successful aspect of this production,” Susman said. “We covered race-related themes and how they might relate to society today, how to be an actor and all the aspects of putting together a production.”
GVT is able to show children the impact live theatre can have on society in everything from the diverse career opportunities to the power to effect great change through artistic expression. An opportunity like this is not readily available to students in other parts of this state, or this country, and is one example of the incalculable value of GVT’s Education Program.
The program is presented with financial assistance from the Daywood Foundation, the Hollowell Foundation and the WV Division of Culture & History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.