Student to direct To Kill a Mockingbird as senior project


Paul Jutras (left) directs a practice for the Performance Hall production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photo: Molly Waits

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will come to life in Performance Hall next week.

Paul Jutras, a senior theatre arts major who has acted and worked behind the scenes in many productions at BJU, will direct the performances as his senior recital. According to Jutras, directing this play has been a dream for him since he saw it in an off-Broadway performance six years ago.

Originally published in 1960, Lee’s book was made into a film directed by Robert Mulligan in 1962, and Christopher Sergel adapted the book into a play that made its debut in 1990.

“It’s one of those classic novels I grew up reading,” Jutras said, “and I really loved the story and the lessons that we learn from [it].”

To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of attorney Atticus Finch and his two children, Scout and Jem. The storyline pits true justice against traditional prejudice. When Atticus accepts the challenge of defending a black man who has been falsely accused of rape, the whole family learns that doing the right thing is sometimes the hardest thing. And sometimes, our perceptions of others reveal prejudice in our hearts.

Jutras says that although many people know the story, he wants to focus more on the experiences of Scout, Jem and their friend Dill. The story is told from the perspective of young Scout.

In order to capture the innocence of childhood, Jutras cast three 10-year-old children from Bob Jones Academy to perform the roles of Scout, Jem and Dill.

Ellis Schoolfield, a senior theatre arts major, will perform the role of Atticus. “Atticus has challenged me a lot about love, equality, justice and just plain sticking to what I believe,” Schoolfield said.

He said further, “We’re told to be a voice for the voiceless, and this role has given me the chance to remember that and remind others about it.”

“I want this to be as real-life as possible,” Jutras said. The set will even include real grass to help provide a realistic atmosphere.

The cast consists of about 14 students, 12 faculty members and three 10-year-old children.

Performances will run from Feb. 12 through 15, with weekday performances at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.