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'Mockingbird' let Robinson character down

I remember reading a plain, black-and-white sign beside the ushers: During tonight's performance, a gun will fire into the audience. I thought, "This is going to be good."

I sat and clapped through the closing curtain of Geva Theatre's "To Kill a Mockingbird," beside my mother who also sat. The crowd stood.

I laud artistic director Mark Cuddy's nod at tying today's societal atrocities to a small, 1930's Southern town riddled with racism. A chorus of teens wearing gray hoodies, hoods up and stoic at the play's opening strikingly alludes to Trayvon Martin, whose overwhelmingly unjust case resounds in subsequent tragic patterns. Slogans like, "Don't Shoot," or "I Can't Breathe," may well be written on those hoodies. Cuddy's use of them stands alone. I commend this.

But I cannot stand for this performance.

Where is Tom Robinson in all of it? Where is the action for Lorenzo Parnell, the actor who plays him? In this production, Robinson's manhood is communicated and conveyed solely through Atticus Finch. There is no place for that in a modern interpretation.

At least show us Tom Robinson when he is in jail, powerless over his fate when the lynch mob arrives. Let Parnell act. Let Robinson show us his humanity, his fear.

Otherwise Tom Robinson is one-dimensional; a puppy that was drowned. When his agency is conveyed and empowered solely through Atticus, who stays alive and well, we don't have to feel too much when the man, himself, is murdered.

Which brings me back to the original observation.

I heard the shotgun being cocked. I saw it being aimed. I jumped out of my seat when it fired. It was terrifying. This is a powerful statement. The mad dog scene, which symbolizes so much, deserves that.

So where was the shotgun when Atticus tells us about Tom being shot? Why isn't Parnell running for his life in front of us?

Racism is not about platitudes; it's about real and raw emotion with scenes for the actors who capture this. Consumerism can be activism. But please do not confuse the two when you see this production. For therein lies the true danger.


Support for a dog park

It'd be awesome to have this happen ("City dog park tryout could happen this spring," March 9). I get tired of A-holes letting their dogs off leash at Genny Valley Park and then their dogs run up to my super aggressive ankle biter. I really shouldn't have to worry about my dog biting some other dog's face while I'm out for a casual walk.


Will miss Craft Service

My father used to take me to the shop when I was a little kid! He bought leather for making belts and I loved looking at all the craft supplies. I'm sure that we found plenty of things for all the projects we used to do at home since arts and crafts were a constant activity for us when we were growing up. I'm sorry to see it go.