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 into
an outstanding motion picture and now a best-selling Broadway play
although it still appears on several Banned Books lists

David Houston and Diana Heinlein (Melanie Lipton, alternate) in 
a Performance Reading In the Style of Radio Drama from

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

 Script Adaptation by David Houston

An hour-long dramatization from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, 
with background music from Elmer Bernstein's haunting score for the film. 
Our program features The Trial of Tom Robinsona 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
South of the 1930ssometimes 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 schools
participating in the "Big Read" initiative of the NEA.

     

 

 

DIANA 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, 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, and 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 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.
MELANIE LIPTON (Alternate)is equally at home in drama, comedies and musicals. Her starring roles include Lilli in Kiss Me Kate, Tracy in High Society, Maggie in The Man Who Came to Dinner, Luisa Contini in Nine, Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, Meredith in Bat Boy, Eve in Applause, Desiree 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 Crawford in Jazz Baby Joan, Zelda Fitzgerald in Great Scott and Zelda, Adele Astaire in Fred and Adele Astaire The Last Dance, 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 Syracuse University.
DAVID 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 number of 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.
 
 

CONTACT INFORMATION

$325.00 package includes actors, technician, reading stands,
music/effects equipment, 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

SCROLL DOWN OR CLICK THESE LINKS

Biography of Harper Lee
Plot Summary
Comments and Reviews

SCHEDULED PERFORMANCES

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, Saturday February 14, 2009, 2:00 p.m.

Port Washington Public Library, Friday September 25, 2009, 12:15 p.m.

Freeport Memorial Library, Wednesday May 21, 2008, 7:30 p.m. 

John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, Saturday June 7, 2008, 2:00 p.m.

Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, Thursday August 21, 2008, 4:00 p.m.

Longwood Public Library, Sunday September 21, 2008, 2:00 p.m.

Harper Lee and 

The Best Novel of The20th Century

By David Houston

1960            2007 

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 the University of Alabama 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.  

To Kill a Mockingbird was published 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.

Harper 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 Kansas assisting Capote with his research for In Cold Blood.

In 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.

From a 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.” 

Plot Summary of To Kill a Mockingbird
from Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia 

The 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 in person.  

Atticus 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.

Because 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.

Reviews and Comments about 
Readings in the Style of Radio Drama

TO 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 performance." Jean 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. 

THE COLOR OF WATER by James McBride (David as Narrator, Debbie Starker as Ruth)

Barbara 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, East Meadow 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 Copiague 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, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton : "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."

TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck (David as Steinbeck and his Characters)

Millie Scott, Librarian, West Babylon Public Library: "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, Lynbrook 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!" 

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (Melanie Lipton, Matt Stashin, David Houston)

Lorraine 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." Jessica Ley, 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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