But on Thursday night, Sorkin and Bartlett Sher, the play’s director, sent a letter to the cast and crew, saying they were “heartbroken” to announce the series would not return, despite months of planning. They blamed producer Scott Rudin, who still owns the rights to the play and who Sorkin and Sher say prevented the play from reopening.
“Bart and I, along with our agents and attorneys, tried everything to overcome the hurdle and get the game back on its feet. We couldn’t do it,” Sorkin wrote in the post, which was obtained by The Washington Post. . “[We] mourn the loss of all the jobs – on stage, backstage and front of house – that have just gone, … we mourn the loss of a great show and our chance to reunite and reconnect on this extraordinary production whose we all know she changed our lives and the lives of everyone who came to see her.
A resounding “Mockingbird” recalls American racism then – and now
The Broadway show, which opened at the Shubert Theater in 2018, was a pre-pandemic hit. Retelling Lee’s beloved novel centering on the trial of Tom Robinson — a black man in 1930s Alabama who is wrongfully accused of rape — with a focus on Robinson’s attorney Atticus Finch, the play had been praised for dealing with racism in a more nuanced way than its source material did. It became the highest-grossing American play in Broadway history, grossing over $40 million in 27 weeks, and was nominated for nine Tony Awards. (Celia Keenan-Bolger won for her portrayal of Finch’s daughter, Scout.) In the following years, the show toured nationally and a production opened in London’s West End.
But recently, the Broadway production had been hampered by controversy related to Rudin, who was facing allegations of abusive behavior, detailed in a Hollywood Reporter article last year. In response to the allegations, Rudin walked away from his productions, including “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “The Book of Mormon.” Last year, “West Side Story,” another Rudin-produced show, also didn’t reopen as planned.
In their letter, Sorkin and Sher said Rudin “reinserted” himself as a producer at the last moment. “For reasons frankly incomprehensible to both of us, he prevented the reopening of the room,” they wrote. Rudin blamed the decision on financial issues, saying in an email to Sorkin and Sher that he had “a lack of confidence in the climate of the games next winter” and “didn’t believe a comeback from ‘ Mockingbird’ would have been competitive in the market,” according to the New York Times.
Sorkin and Sher had worked on the show with producer Orin Wolf, who was installed after Rudin’s departure, and whom they credited in their letter with preparing production to reopen. Their relationship with Rudin had deteriorated months earlier. In September, Sorkin told Vanity Fair he had experienced his own instances of “upper class bullying” by Rudin, but refrained from commenting further, saying the producer “got what he deserved. “.
In The Hollywood Reporter’s story, Rudin is described as “unhinged”. The producer is said to have once slammed a computer screen on the hand of an assistant strong enough to draw blood – one of several so-called “tantrums” described in the article.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ truths tell the whites
The decision to shut down Broadway’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ won’t affect the national tour, which arrived in DC earlier this summer, or shows at London’s Gielgud Theatre, where it debuted in March this year. .
The news comes as Lee’s original script “To Kill a Mockingbird” has come under intense scrutiny, with some schools removing the book from their curricula, citing Atticus Finch’s characterization as a “white savior”. In the play, Sorkin splits the narrative between three adult characters – Scout, her brother Jem, and their best friend Dill, looking back to the past – and creates a more complex depiction of Finch. Post theater critic Peter Marks praised the show when it opened on Broadway, writing that Atticus “is torn from his faith in the goodness of mankind for a more sober assessment of the limits of human decency”.
In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sorkin opened up about his story changes: “In the book, you have a guy who has all the answers,” he said, “And in the play, you have a guy struggling with issues.