2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the
publication of this book, which was voted
"the best novel
of the 20th Century" in a nationwide poll and was made
an outstanding motion picture and now a best-selling
it still appears on several Banned Books lists
Houston and Diana Heinlein (Melanie Lipton, alternate) in
a Performance Reading
In the Style of Radio Drama from
Kill a Mockingbird
Adaptation by David Houston
hour-long dramatization from the Pulitzer Prize winning
with background music from Elmer Bernstein's
haunting score for the film.
Our program features The Trial of Tom Robinson—a black man accused of a crime he
didn't commit, seen through the eyes and actions of
Atticus Finch, his defense attorney,
and Finch's 9-year-old daughter Scout. A meaningful look at the misguided American
the 1930s—sometimes unjust and violent, sometimes gentle and wise.
Our program is for
the many devotees
of the book and film, and also a presentation
worth considering for Black History Month in February, Women's
History Month in March; for
schools with the book in their
curriculum, and for organizations, libraries and
participating in the "Big Read" initiative
of the NEA.
HEINLEIN—Reviewing a recent
production of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife,
NEWSDAY said, "Diana Heinlein is solid and hilarious
at the center of the angst-ridden comedy; watching her wallow in comic pathos is a delight." Since the 1980s,
A Rodgers and
Hart Audition. Diana has been David's reading partner
in numerous Readings in the Style of Radio Drama for
Nassau and Suffolk libraries.
Diana has acted myriad featured roles,
among them many Neil Simon classics including
Mrs. Banks in Barefoot in the Park, Kate in
both Broadway Bound and Brighton Beach Memoirs
Cookie in one production of Rumors and Claire
in another. Beyond comedy, her
portrayals include Annie Sullivan in The Miracle
Worker, and Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa.
In Houston's plays, she was Dorothy in the comedy-drama The Ghost
of Dorothy Parker, and she "auditioned" as five
different celebrities of the '40s in
MELANIE LIPTON (Alternate)—is
equally at home in drama, comedies and musicals. Her
starring roles include Lilli in
Kiss Me Kate,
The Man Who Came to Dinner,
Luisa Contini in
Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's
Elizabeth Proctor in
A Little Night Music,
Emily Dickinson in
The Belle of Amherst,
and Lois Lane in a rare revival of
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman.
She has performed in several David Houston shows: Joan
Jazz Baby Joan,
Zelda Fitzgerald in
Great Scott and Zelda,
Adele Astaire in
Fred and Adele Astaire The Last
and five quick change celebrities of the 1940s in
A Rodgers and Hart Audition.
Melanie spent two seasons as teacher and
choreographer at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts
Center and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from
HOUSTON—David has appeared in
leading roles in scores of plays and musicals,
including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet,
Senex in Sondheim's Forum, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr
Shultz in Cabaret, Tony Wendice in Dial M
For Murder, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, and Horace Giddens in
The Little Foxes.
He is a published and produced writer , fiction and non-fiction.
His original plays: Murder and Madness and Poe,
Lillie Alone (Lillie Langtre), Great Scott and
Zelda (the Fitzgeralds), Let's Do It (Cole
Porter and Noel Coward), A Rodgers and Hart
Audition (celebrities of the 1940s) and The Last Dance
(Fred and Adele Astaire) have been seen at a
Long Island libraries and schools. His Joan
Crawford biography Jazz Baby (St. Martin's
Press) was optioned for movie production, as was his
mystery Shadows on the Moon. Every spring,
he supplies a Reading in the Style of Radio Drama
based on the book chosen for Long Island Reads.
includes actors, technician, reading stands,
and travel (Long Island and Queens; for fees for other
locales, contact David Houston);
facility is asked to supply an 8x12 acting area, basic lighting, and amplification if the space is large
The Performance runs about 65 minutes
For more information, for bookings, and to inquire about
fees for other locales, contact:
David Houston (516) 293-2693; DH@davidhouston.net
DOWN OR CLICK THESE LINKS
Biography of Harper Lee
Comments and Reviews
Hillside Publick Library, Friday, October 4, 2019, 7:00
Queens Library, Glen Oaks, Friday September 28, 2018, 1:00 p.m.
Bronx Library Center, Saturday February 1, 2014, 2:30 p.m.
Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton, Wednesday October
27, 2010, noon
Jericho Public Library, Tuesday February 3,
2009, 2:00 p.m.
John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor,
February 14, 2009,
Port Washington Public Library, Friday September 25,
2009, 12:15 p.m.
Memorial Library, Wednesday May 21, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, Saturday June 7,
Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, Thursday August 21,
Longwood Public Library, Sunday September 21,
Best Novel of The20th Century
Nelle Harper Lee (Nelle
to friends and family) was born
April 28, 1926, in
Monroeville, Alabama—the youngest of four children. Her father was a lawyer
who served on the Alabama State Legislature and a
newspaper editor and businessman. Following in his several
footsteps, Nelle was an avid reader and, when she attended
as a law student, she edited the school’s humor magazine
and contributed articles for that and other publications.
She did not complete her law degree and instead moved to New York City
in 1950, where she wrote essays and short stories about
racial inequality and made ends meet working as an
airlines reservations clerk.
Vowing to become the
Jane Austin of the American South, she quit her job at
Eastern Airlines in 1956, accepted the gift of a year’s
income from friends, acquired an agent, and within a year
had a first draft of To
Kill a Mockingbird—which she completed in the summer
of 1959. Semiautobiographical, the novel drew on Lee’s
“tomboy” childhood for her main character, 9-year-old
Scout, on her father for the character of Aticus and his
courtroom experiences for the trial of Tom Robinson, on
relatives and neighbors in small-town Alabama —including
a mysterious man who was the basis for Boo Radley, and her
childhood friend Truman Capote, who inspired the character
of Dill. Capote returned her compliment when he used
memories of Nelle for Idabel in Other Voices Other Rooms.
Kill a Mockingbird
July 11, 1960 and was an instant bestseller and critical success. In
1961 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The film
version (still popular today) won the 1962 Academy Award
for Best Screenplay Adaptation.
Lee told a journalist: “I never expected any sort of
success with Mockingbird.
I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands
of reviewers, but, at the same time, I sort of hoped
someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. I
hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole
lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening
as the quick merciful death I expected.” That year,
1965, she was in
assisting Capote with his research for In Cold Blood.
1966, President Johnson appointed her to the newly formed
National Council on the Arts, along with Leonard
Bernstein, Agnes de Mille, Duke Ellington, Helen Hayes,
Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, Richard Rodgers, Rosalind
Russell, and John Steinbeck.
poll conducted by Library
Journal in 1999, To
Kill a Mockingbird was declared the “Best Novel of
the Century.” And on
November 5, 2007, Harper Lee was presented The Presidential Medal of
Freedom, the highest civilian award in the
United States, by President Bush in a ceremony at the White House.
The President said: “To Kill a Mockingbird has influenced the character of our country for the
better. It's been a gift to the entire world. As a model
of good writing and humane sensibility, this book will be
read and studied forever.”
Summary of To Kill a Mockingbird
the free on-line encyclopedia
story takes place during three years of the Great Depression
in the fictional "tired old town" of Maycomb,
Alabama. The narrator, 9-year-old Scout Finch, lives with her older
brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged
lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill who visits
Maycomb to stay with his aunt for the summer. The three
children are terrified by, and fascinated with, their
neighbor, the reclusive "Boo" Radley. The adults of
Maycomb are hesitant to talk about Boo and for many years, few
have seen him. The children feed each other's imaginations
with rampant rumors about his grotesque appearance and his
reasons for remaining hidden, while they dream of ways to get
him to come out of his house. Following two summers of
friendship with Dill, Scout and Jem find that someone is
leaving them small gifts in a tree outside the Radley place.
Several times, the mysterious Boo makes gestures of affection
to the children, but, to their disappointment, never appears
is assigned to defend a black man named Tom Robinson, who has
been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman.
Although many of Maycomb's citizens disapprove, Atticus agrees
to defend Tom to the best of his ability. Scout is subjected
to other children taunting Atticus, calling him a
"nigger-lover," and she is tempted to stand up for
her father's honor by fighting, even though he has told her
not to. For his part, Atticus faces a group of men intent on
lynching Tom, but this danger is averted when Scout, Jem, and
Dill shame the mob into dispersing by forcing them to view the
situation from Atticus' and Tom's points of view.
Atticus does not want them to be present at Tom Robinson's
trial, Scout, Jem and Dill watch in secret from the colored
balcony. Atticus establishes that the accusers—Mayella and
her father and the town drunk, Bob Ewell—are lying. It also
becomes clear that the friendless Mayella was making sexual
advances towards Tom and that her father caught her in the
act. Despite significant evidence of Tom's innocence, he is
convicted. Jem's faith in justice is badly shaken, as is
Atticus', when a hopeless Tom is shot and killed while trying
to escape from prison.
Bob Ewell is humiliated by the trial and vows revenge. He spits in
Atticus' face on the street, tries to break into the judge's
house, and menaces Tom Robinson's widow. Finally, he attacks
the defenseless Jem and Scout as they walk home from a
Halloween pageant at their school. Jem's arm is broken in the
struggle, but, amid the confusion, someone comes to their
rescue. The mysterious man carries Jem home, where Scout
eventually recognizes him as the reclusive Boo Radley.
and Comments about
Readings in the Style of Radio Drama
KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (David as men and boys' voices,
Diana Heinlein as Scout and women)
Penny Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial
Library, Southampton: "I cannot remember being more moved in
any theater than I was by your and Diana's performance of Harper
Lee's courtroom scene which contains so much truth about good
and evil. I wish everyone could see it." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library:
"Excellent. Another outstanding performance: well thought out,
planned, and performed." Lori
Abbatepaolo, Librarian, Middle Island Public Library:
"The performers (Diana Heinlein and Steve Corbellini) were
excellent, and the adaptation and staging provided a powerful
experience of Harper Lee's book. It was filled with emotion and
the audience seemed completely caught up in the
Scanlon, Program Director, Freeport Memorial Library: "The
performers take you back to the 1930's South. The variations in
voice make you feel as though all the litigants and the children
are on stage. The reading was wonderful." Bonnie
Russell, Program Director, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor:
"Excellent" in all categories, including Audience
Response, Literary Content, and Performance.
COLOR OF WATER by James McBride (David as Narrator, Debbie
Starker as Ruth)
Minerd, Public Relations Director, Shelter Rock Public Library:
“Well, if this radio drama doesn't inspire those who haven't
read the book to read it, I don't know what will. The
program transported me to another world." Jude Schanzer,
Program Director and Publicity,
Public Library: "Stupendous meticulous thought
obviously given to the material and the venue in which it was to
be performed. The audience was visibly moved."
Marion Waller, Professional Theatrical Director, at
Library: "The performances were mesmerizing. You
"saw" these people and never had to wonder who was
speaking. Eras and places were evoked to maximum
effect." Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs,
: "A brilliant adaptation of a remarkable book.
The superbly acted production conveys the pure essence of Mr.
McBride's poignant tribute to his remarkable mother." Melissa
Gabrielle, Programs, South Country Library, Bellport:
"A powerful and wonderful performance that had a great
impact on the audience. The high school students who
attended commented that they found that the actors made the
story even more relevant to their experiences in class."
WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck (David as Steinbeck and his
"The West Babylon Literary Club was looking forward to your
presentation and again were not disappointed! An excellent
program. Thanks!" Kate Horan, Adult Services
Librarian, South Country Library: "I am so impressed
with how you coordinated text selections with the music of Aaron
Copland. I'm sure you could tell by the audience's
enthusiastic response that everyone loved the various voices you
highlighted in our narrative journey across America." Fran
Carey, patron, Half Hollow Hills Community Library: "I
loved Copland's music accompanying the lively and animated
reading; this was a delightful and engaging performance." Tracey
Simon, Program Coordinator,
Public Library: "The feedback was quite positive and
inspired a few members of the audience to read the book and join
us for the book discussion the following week!"
451 by Ray Bradbury (Melanie Lipton, Matt Stashin, David
Paesano, Adult Services Librarian, Middle Country
Public Library at Centereach: "As always, a
polished professional performance. Being joined
by Matt Stashin and Melanie Lipton added to the
overall impact. Listening to the selected pieces
made me think of how scary it would be if people's
beliefs and freedoms were to be challenged and
mandated by others. Thanks for a great reading!" Deborah Dellis-Quinn,
Program Director, Manhasset Library "FAHRENHEIT 451 was excellent
– not only for our adult audience, but would be valuable for
high-school students. The pace was quick, keeping the audience
involved in the characters and plot throughout the program. The
message of Ray Bradbury's novel was powerfully portrayed by the cast,
and respectfully scripted."
Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library:
"I've come to expect excellence from a David Houston
production, and I've never been disappointed.
FAHRENHEIT 451 was outstanding."
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