Wednesday, March 30, 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird - meet cast member Zachary Todd

Meet Zachary Todd who is playing Walter Cunningham in LTA's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Tell us about your character. What single word would you use to describe him? 
Walter is hardworking but still poor due to his circumstances. He’s proud to a fault, embarrassed that he has to pay his bills with fresh produce instead of cash, and fiercely loyal once you earn his respect (which isn’t easy). He’s a product of his time and place, raised in ignorance but capable of real empathy. He represents the slow cultural shift taking place in the South. My single word for Walter is: decent.

What were some of the challenges for you in working on this piece?  
Definitely trying to convey emotion and subtle changes in Walter’s demeanor that need to be obvious but not too blatant. 

What do you hope the audience experiences/takes away from this show?  
The hope that one day goodness will completely outweigh the ugliness in the world.

How does this show differ from other shows you’ve worked on? 
It’s certainly more of a serious topic than the other shows I’ve done. Walter is also a deeper character than other roles I’ve taken on; he wrestles with more complex issues.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?  
I started acting in 8th grade with my school drama club and continued through high school and some in college. I took a long break afterwards and didn’t get back into theater until about 3 years ago. I got into theater because I love telling stories and making people laugh (or think, as the case may be). Once I started to become acquainted with the community theater scene in DC, I knew I wanted to do a show with LTA. Their reputation and professionalism make them a highly desired company to work for and I’m honored to be among their ranks.

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?  
Practice all the time. I memorize lines while on the elliptical machine at the gym or while eating my lunch. There are so many pockets of time throughout the day to continually practice (even if it’s for 4 minutes while you’re microwaving a frozen burrito). Practice how you want to say your lines, your facial expressions, even different accents. The more you practice, the more natural you become when you deliver your lines and the more you can focus on subtle nuances to your character.

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of Walter Cunningham?
That I need to step into other people’s skin a little more often to really understand them. 

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