How Richard Thomas aims to redefine Atticus as ‘Mockingbird’ comes to L.A.
In the past few months, actor Richard Thomas has been busy redrawing the screen image of the playwright/humorist/author/philanthropist Atticus Finch in a new adaptation set in the South, with new music and dialogue, and fresh faces both on and off-screen.
“I’ve always wanted to adapt the plays of the man that was one of the most important storytellers in American literary history,” he says.
The result, Richard Thomas’ directorial debut Atticus in Paradise, was the first part of a four-hour production which was filmed over the course of November and will be broadcast at the Tribeca Film Festival Sunday, Jan. 16.
The production is being presented by the nonprofit National Education Center for Early Childhood and is directed by Thomas. He’s also executive producing with Peter Atencio and David Wohl.
As described in the program’s program notes, “This dramatization of the American South takes the reader through the lives of the characters from the novels of Harper Lee. The play features dialogue and music from the Harper Lee novels.”
The show’s website offers the following synopsis:
“In the 20th Century, the South has been a hotbed of political corruption. As a result, African Americans have not become part of the culture like they should be, and it is the black community’s responsibility to change that. The story centers around the character of Atticus, and the community he represents. Atticus is a man who lives by the values he believes in – honor, integrity, courage, and justice. He knows the importance of integrity, and will do what it takes to maintain the good character in his life. It is Atticus who gives the characters in the play their character, which is what make them the characters they are.”
Thomas’ interest in bringing Atticus into Hollywood’s mainstream is just one of the reasons the play—written by Thomas, based on “Atticus” by Harper Lee—has gotten him to the “Mockingbird” stage.
“It’s exciting because to