Monroeville and the Stage Production of “To Kill a Mockingbird”
© 2023 John M. Williams
The first time I ever visited Monroeville, I had the dumb luck to arrive on a day when the courthouse-turned-museum was hosting a theatrical version of the story. I had no idea such a thing even existed. Monroeville and the Stage Production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is the story of how the play came to be, and how it’s become part of Monroevillers’ lives over the last two decades. I say ‘story’ deliberately, because Williams hasn’t written a formal history. Instead, it’s more of a collection of accounts, typically centering around a personality who was involved or impacted in the story of TKAM and especially its stage production, and while the accounts generally follow a chronological drift, it’s very much a drift and not a purposeful drive. Through these accounts, we get a varied history of the town, the play, and how they give life to another: the town’s racial tensions giving birth to the original story, the novel keeping a post-industrial rural community alive and making it Alabama’s literary capital. We meet personalities who inspired those in the play, and those who embody the characters and bring them to life, both in Alabama and abroad, and come to know Monroeville better through the people who have heard its stories from their grandfather’s lap and now pass them on. It’s an interesting mix of local history and literary commentary – definitely of interest to both Alabamians and to those interested in TKAM in general.