SMCC performs “Mockingbird”

The South Mountain Community College theatre department presents “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the play based on a classic novel by Harper Lee, April 13-16.

The novel’s 50th anniversary was celebrated just last year, but its themes of “racism, classism and coming of age in America” feel no less relevant today.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is set in the Deep South of 1930s America — where “the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by…one man’s struggle for justice.”

I learned about this particular production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” shortly after running across something called a “hate map” put together by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama — which identifies “more than 1,000 hate groups operating across this country.”

The SPLC “hate map” lists 22 groups in Arizona — including “Faithful Word Baptist Church” in Tempe (Anti-gay), “Free American” in Tucson (White nationalist), “Vinlanders Arizona” in Mesa (Racist skinhead), “White Knights of America” in Tonopah (Neo-Nazi) and “United for a Sovereign America (USA)” in Phoenix (Anti-immigrant).

In addition to tracking hate and extremism, the Southern Poverty Law Center helps children at risk, fosters immigrant justice and teaches tolerance through publications and other tools you can learn more about at their website.

The novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” has endured controversy since its publication — even making the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 banned 20th century novels. Other banned titles include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

The South Mountain Community College production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”– which is being directed by Julie Holston — offers Valley parents the opportunity to introduce their children to this classic piece of American literature through live performance art.

Most students read the book in school, and families can always watch the 1962 film (starring Gregory Peck) together. But there’s something especially powerful in seeing such works performed on stage by young actors living in our midst.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” at SMCC opens Wed, April 13, at 7:30pm. Additional 7:30pm shows take place April 14-16. The show’s only matinee is Sat, April 16, at 2pm.

All seats are general admission and tickets run just $10 (though Maricopa Community College District students attend for free with valid student I.D.). Tickets are available online at www.showup.com and at the SMCC box office before each show.

To learn about additional arts offerings from South Mountain Community College, including several storytelling events taking place this month, click here.

– Lynn

Coming up: A day spent with PBS, Herberger happenings, Of moose and music, Movie theater meets “Memphis”

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12

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