HART production is enough to prompt priority change

By Vicki Hyatt | May 05, 2014

My family and I don’t attend nearly enough of the wonderful performances at Haywood Regional Arts Theater, though I have never seen a play there I didn’t like.

Each time I go, I’m reminded what a powerful asset Haywood Regional Arts Theater is to our community, not just for the entertainment, but for the economic impact it has in this county.

My husband and I attended current HART production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and it provided an opportunity to reflect not just on a sad era of our nation’s history, but on the ability of drama to drive home poignant truths in a powerful way.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of those plays that has so many layers, you think about it for days. As you reflect on all you saw and heard during the two-and-a-half-hour performance, it takes you back to what times must have been like in 1935 when racism was much more overt than it is today.

You consider the humanity and positivism of Atticus Finch, the southern lawyer who continued to think the best of people, even after they proved him wrong at several junctions.

You think about the innocence of children who somewhat understand what’s going on around them, but whose lack of cynicism keeps them from grasping ugly truths.

While every single actor in the play did a marvelous job, I found the three children in the play to be especially impressive. They seemed so young to be able to memorize so many lines and act them out so flawlessly.

They included Lily Bates, who played Scout and is a Carolina Day School student; Jake Shanken as Jem, who is a fifth grader at Riverbend Elementary and Luke Wilson, a fourth grader at Junaluska Elementary, who played Dill.

My children graduated more than a decade ago, and I guess I’ve forgotten the amazing things kids can do when given a chance. To see the talent and abilities of Bates, Shanken and Wilson alone was well worth the ticket cost.

Just as most families, our day-to-day life is filled to the brim. Our curse, if you call it that, is not being able to get off the work track long enough to squeeze a bit of pleasure into a day — or month. When our children were in school, the circuit was ball game after ball game every season except the dead of winter.

At each stage of life, there is generally more to do than there is time to do it. It takes a play like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to realize it is a good thing — no, a necessary thing — to step out of our routines and experience just a small slice of what is beyond our usual daily activities.

If you haven’t done that for a while, taking in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is just the ticket. The play runs one last weekend. Call HART at 456-6322 to reserve a seat.