Meet Richard Fiske who is playing Atticus in LTA's To Kill a Mockingbird.
Tell us a little bit about your character? What single word would you use to describe him/her?
Scout’s coming of age story is the heart of the show; Atticus helps her grow through his example and his instruction and his interpretation - for her - of things, sometimes terrible things, she sees in Maycomb. Atticus shows us all what we can be.
What were some of the challenges for you in working on this piece?
Atticus is, of course, an iconic role. I’m finding that the greatest challenge is to portray him as a human, with human failings and emotions, while maintaining the impossibly high character standard set by Harper Lee. Fortunately, Frank Pasqualino’s direction and the terrific cast make working on this project a joy. Is Atticus really that good a person, or is this how Jean Louise remembers him?
What do you hope the audience experiences/takes away from this show?
First, of course, we all hope that the audience becomes submerged in the show; that they let themselves go and experience what the characters are experiencing. I want them to lose themselves in the relationship between Atticus and his children, and the events in the play. When Atticus speaks to the audience as the jury, I want the audience as individuals to actually consider the responsibility they have and the weight of the decision they must make. And I also want the audience to recognize some of the various characters’ traits in themselves; traits that they may want to enhance or may want to diminish. Finally, while much remains to be done, I want people to see how far we have progressed on racial issues since 1935.
I found that Atticus’s behavior, patience and understanding, his guidance to his children that “You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” is a refreshing change from what we all see in the current political environment. “What Mr. Radley does might seem peculiar to us, but it does not seem peculiar to him.” Perhaps we all could take a step back, calm down, and begin a reasoned discussion of issues that divide us.
How does this show differ from other shows you’ve worked on?
This show differs in it’s stark contrasts of good and evil, within the context of its place and time, and thebroad and immediate applicability of the show’s themes to all of us today.
How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?
I have been acting in theater for about six years. I got involved because I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and can’t do a lot of the physical things I used to do. I like the opportunity to be, literally, a variety of people in challenging circumstances. I want to take the audience into a different world. I got involved with LTA because it’s a first class operation with a tremendous reputation and it is close to home.
What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?
Take classes. And don’t think or talk about getting into acting, just DO it. You don’t want to get to the end and say, “Gee, I wish I had...”
What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of Atticus?
There is always the opportunity for discovery.