Who: Millibo Art Theatre
When: Opens Thursday, March 13, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through March 30
Where: Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St.
Tickets: $20, $15 Thursdays, $10-$12 student tickets with ID; 465-6321, themat.org

A production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" will be a first for the Millibo Art Theatre. It's the first time a nonoriginal piece of theater will grace the stage.

"Mockingbird" opens Thursday.

Local director Kelly Walters wanted to do a show that matched what he saw as the company's mission.

"The essence is their storytelling tradition," he says, "and they always have a unique take on the human condition and experience."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 Harper Lee novel introduced the names of Atticus, Scout, Jem and Boo Radley into the lexicon. The story takes place during the Depression in the Deep South and is narrated by a child, Scout. Her father, Atticus, a lawyer, defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.

"The universal themes are about good and evil, loss of innocence, but also about learning to perceive the world without the preconceptions of childhood," Walters says, "to see things as they are and being willing to change your viewpoint as you see them. It's really a journey toward an adult understanding. It's about fatherhood and learning and parenting. This book happened to come out at the beginning of the civil rights movement, so the themes of predjudice and how we should think about it, and how we'd want our children to think about it, is also a theme."

Walters admits the production will be different in some ways than what one might expect, but isn't revealing details.

"Harper Lee said 'I don't want any preambles to my book. The story stands on its own,'" he says. "I wanted the production to reflect that, meaning it's simple, like childhood, but not childish. It's an adult play. It's simple but surprising, and should be a discovery."


Jennifer Mulson, 636-0270, jen.mulson@gazette.com

Other events

Birds of Chicago - 7 p.m. Thursday, Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive, $15; 476-2200, stargazers theatre.com.