2022-23 season

2022-23 season

Friday, October 7, 2011

This Boo Wouldn’t Say Boo

Nina White (Scout) and Dave Ewick (Boo) clowning around at rehearsal.

The reclusive Boo Radley is a central figure in To Kill A Mockingbird.   Jem Finch first describes him like an animal:  “Judging from his tracks, he’s about six and a half feet tall, eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch.  His teeth are yellow and rotten, his eyes pop out and most of the time, he drools.”   In the course of the play, we come to learn that this pre-judgment of Boo – like most prejudices -- is far from accurate. 

I asked Dave Ewick his impressions about the challenge of playing multiple roles in Mockingbird, including Boo Radley.  Dave describes his characters as follows:

“My first character is Nathan Radley [Boo’s older brother].  My take is that he's a guy who thought he was "free" of Maycomb, only to be brought back through his sense of responsibility to his family when his father died and Boo needed a caretaker.  Nathan isn't necessarily happy, but he is resigned to his fate.  He sometimes resents having to come back home, so can be a little short with folks, but he's a good man.  I see him as more educated than most in Maycomb.

“My second character is the nameless "big man". I see him as a typical '30's redneck, farm boy; part of the background of the town.  Due to his size, he's a bit of a bully and likes to throw his weight around.  Due to a lack of education, and a typical southern home life; he's a bit of a racist.  He likes to go out with the boys for a drink or two, then enjoys the rowdy things the guys do.  While he doesn't like Bob Ewell any more than most, he willingly drinks with him and hangs out with him in the group.  

“My final character is my favorite.  Boo Radley isn't seen on stage until the very end, but his presence is felt throughout the play.  The descriptions of him really push the audience into thinking he's almost a monster.  … My view is that Boo is a gentle soul, and that he was over-protected by his family ….  Boo loves to watch Jem and Scout at play.  He feels safer with children than with adults or older kids, who scare him.  … To me, Boo represents innocence and his actions show that he wants to protect the innocence of others.  While the kids have been afraid of him, his only thoughts have been affection and curiosity for them.”

Dave’s thoughtful character studies help him bring these characters to life, and he has certainly made the most of his few lines in the play.   For example, Nathan Radley’s first line, a terse but simple greeting of “Afternoon,” always brings a laugh from audiences.  Dave really helps us see these characters as more complex than we might assume based on first impressions: “I've been using these thoughts to guide me in my reactions.  There are so many ways to see "the other" and to realize how it can affect our lives - this is just one facet of so many ways to see it.”  Well said, Mr. Boo.

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