Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT), the State Professional Theatre of West Virginia, is proud to present “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This southern gothic classic will continue running on Oct. 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org.
The classic novel by Harper Lee adapted for stage. Jean Louise, an adult Scout Finch, tells the story of one eventful summer during her childhood in the Deep South. Scout, her brother Jem and their friend Dill watch her father Atticus battle bigotry and racism in order to save an innocent man. Her moral code is shaped as she watches her father, while her childlike curiosity helps her to uncover a secret hiding next door.
If you have read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” its powerful characters and loaded plot likely left a powerful impression on you. A great challenge for the book-to-play adaptation is maintaining all those subtle character traits and plot details that make the book so captivating. Kelsey Pressnall, who has taken on the role of Scout, knows it’s those details that make the story worth telling.
“With any book-to-play adaptation a lot of detail can be lost. If we were completely true to the book the show would go on for hours! The play is a truncated version of the book that still does a great job of incorporating the key moments that explain why Jean Louise must tell her story now,” said Pressnall.
The young actor earned her BA in Theatre Arts and Administration, with a minor in music, from Drury University. Due to her small stature she has played many child roles, and she first appeared on GVT’s stage in “The Member of the Wedding” as the young and impressionable Frankie Addams.
While Pressnall admits that it can be a challenge for an adult to bring a child’s emotions to the stage, the young GVTeens in the show are also finding it difficult.
“It is difficult as an actor to portray a character that has no idea what is happening. I have to put myself into the mindset of my character before the show,” said Ryan Vaughan, who portrays Scout’s older brother Jem.
Vaughan is a 15-year-old who has been performing at GVT since he was five. He made his mainstage debut in 2016 with On Golden Pond alongside Emmy Award winner Stuart Margolin. The young student has also read the book and noticed many of the small changes that Pressnall noticed, but finds that he really appreciates the adaptation.
“My favorite thing about the play that is not in the book is the trial. This show really stresses the importance of the trial,” Vaughan said.
Preserving the childlike views, especially during the trial, is a challenge that both Pressnall and Vaughan enjoy meeting. They agree that the show provides ample opportunity to show the audience their powerful emotional reaction to Tom Robinson’s trial.
The program is presented with financial assistance from 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 (NEA). For more on how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
Located in beautiful, historic downtown Lewisburg, “America’s Coolest Small Town,” Greenbrier Valley Theatre, The State Professional Theatre of West Virginia, is committed to its mission statement to create live, professional quality theatre in West Virginia and, through theatre, to enlighten, enrich, and enliven the life of our region.
Throughout each year, GVT produces first-class theatrical productions featuring professional actors. Additionally, Greenbrier Valley Theatre offers a successful after-school drama program, a summer camp for children and teens, literary readings, live simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, special events and musical performances, art appreciation activities, lectures, discussions and workshops.