Back to the 1930s

At the theatre, on Dec. 11, senior Hector Gonzalez and junior Kathy Azzam perform as Bob Yule (an abusive father) and Mayella (a compulsive liar) in the To Kill a Mockingbird play. “ This was hard for me because I’m totally against disrespecting girls, but luckily I’m good friends with her,” Gonzalez stated. “She knew it wasn’t serious, but overall it was a great experience.”

Irania Quintero, Staff Writer

Downey High School’s drama department presented Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, on Dec. 5, because Lee’s novel served as inspiration to Mr. Lars Hansen due to current events in modern society. Hansen deemed it appropriate to have his students perform this play given the relativity to today’s society and because of its strong but appropriate language. Racism and injustice are widely covered topics in the courtroom scene, which also pertain to events such as those that took place in Ferguson, Missouri.


“Drama tends to cross into a wide span of subject areas especially English,” Hansen said. “Most of the students at Downey High have or will read this book, and I found that with everything going on around us, this play would be perfect in the sense that it would give people an idea of the circumstances.”


Lee’s novel is based on the trial of Tom Robinson, an African American man, who was accused and found guilty of abusing a young white woman. This part of the novel parallels current events that occurred in New York and Missouri, where some public opinion says the justice system failed. One of the characters, Jem, played by Angel Espinoza, 12, is curious and strong-willed. Jem, being as curious as he is, shows up to the trial and understands the injustice of the outcome. Although it frustrates him how unfair the system could be, he knows that things cannot change. This character is one who is a representation of adolescents today. More young adults today express their political opinion and anger towards what is going on by protesting the outcomes of court hearings.


“My character is curious and mature for his age,” Espinoza said. “I feel that since Jem understood the depth of the situation in the court­room, I was able to understand what is going on in America better. Anyone who watches the play will also be able to see current events in a different light.”


Not only does the play give an accurate representation of Lee’s writing, but it also gives a feeling of clarity. Students who read the book during their sophomore year at Downey High, and chose to watch the play, got an actual visual of what they read.


“I imagined the scenes from the book so vividly because of the detail, and this play did a great job of giving a physical demonstration of what I had imagined,” Jared Gomez, 12, said. “Because of what is going on with all the protesting and evident racism, I now understand how events of racism were dealt with in Harper Lee’s time.”


Besides the play helping students and audience members understand current events, such as those in Ferguson, these same events help readers understand the racism in Lee’s novel. Hansen expressed his need to have this play shown during these times. The drama adviser also made it clear that every fall, there will be a more serious play hence, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a more light­hearted play will be shown during the spring.