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In 1961 the novel won the Pulitzer Prize. In 1962 the film won multiple Academy Awards. In 2018 a new incarnation of To Kill A Mockingbird arose on stage, premiering at the Shubert Theatre in New York.
The adaptation of one of the most treasured novels and films in American history did not disappoint. The show has not played to an empty seat and has proved to be one of the most successful American plays in Broadway history. And now Mockingbird is set to premiere on the West End, at the Gielgud Theatre in May 2020.
Multi-award winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) was charged with the responsibility of adapting it for the stage. Refusing to be resigned to the shadow of Harper Lee's masterpiece, Sorkin grappled with the original text to produce a version that would be relevant today. His efforts met great critical acclaim, with the New York Times hailing his work as 'a Mockingbird for our moment.'
For fans of the novel and film, do not expect a straightforward re-hash of the original works. The story centres around the lawyer Atticus Finch defending an innocent African American man from fabricated charges. But the Atticus in Sorkin's script will deviate from the idealised figure of a noble, righteous saviour coming to the rescue of an oppressed black victim. Sorkin aimed to create a more human, more flawed hero and to give more confidence and agency to the African American characters in the story.
A significant obstacle to adapting the story for the stage was the slow pace of the novel and film. Both works offer a deep examination into the open wounds of poverty and racism in American society. But Sorkin's adaptation has a more dynamic structure, the story framed more like a gripping courtroom drama. Expect fewer slow passages about children playing in a tired rural town in Alabama, and more rousing speeches before the judge and jury about injustice and inequality.
Bartlett Sher, resident director at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York, directed the Broadway production and will take the reins again for the West End run. Rhys Ifans, no stranger to the West End stage and currently starring in On Bear Ridge at the Royal Court Theatre, is confirmed to play the leading role, while the rest of the British cast is yet to be announced.
|What||To Kill A Mockingbird, Gielgud Theatre|
|Where||Gielgud Theatre, 35 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6AR | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
21 May 20 – 30 Sep 20, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£25 - 100+|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|