Leaving Maycomb


It started out so uncertain. I was thrown into the middle of it all… 

12032187_10152979087512084_7366587121949599674_nOne day, my friend and colleague Tobie Pillstrom sent out a request on Facebook for ensemble castmembers for To Kill a Mockingbird.  I hadn’t done any theatre in a while, but I thought, Sure I can play a racist farmer, or whatever else they need for that play. So I showed up, and I volunteered to be part of it. Somehow, they needed to recast Boo Radley and his brother Nathan. They’d had actors drop out. So they asked me if I would do it.  I said yes. 

I didn’t know anybody else in the show, except for Tobie’s son and a student of mine. It felt like a fairly “gelled” group I was being thrown into- several of them knew each other from previous productions.  And then I found out there would be two “matinee” days of morning shows during the week. I was supposed to take off work two days for my “racist farmer” gig?  To be some sort of alien castmember in somebody else’s show? I wasn’t really sure about sticking around. But I resisted the urge to run.  I said yes. 

In hindsight, what a great decision it has been to go ahead and hang out with these folks all those nights. It stopped being somebody else’s show. It’s now mine, too. I’ve been shown so much kindness and so much friendship that it makes it seem kind of strange to think I ever had doubts. The people I’ve had the fortune to meet have enriched my life, and I can’t wait for Robbie to have time in her schedule to get involved in theatre again sometime too.

Now we’ve arrived at the final weekend. Two more shows, and then Mockingbird will be struck.

I don’t know what I’ll miss the most. There are so many good folks I’ve been able to enjoy seeing almost every day for the last three weeks. All I can say is, I will look forward to the next time.

If you’re ever thrown into an unexpected situation like I was, where you don’t know how exactly to act or who is who, just remember: life is like that. You just have to take it as it comes, and remember: always say yes.

You’ll be glad you did.









  1. Allison Saxton

    Well I, for one, am SO glad you said “YES.” You helped make the show the success that it is and you were a wonderful and welcome addition to our show family! Great post. Thanks James!

  2. David Rogers

    I never realized that there was a comment section at the bottom here. So two weeks after we ended our show, To Kill A Mockingbird, I guess I will leave a comment. I remember the first day you came to rehearsal and you were quietly sitting in the chairs as we were going through the motions. I remember that I was wondering who’s this guy and what he doing in here checking us out. I for one am a bit suspicious of anything or anyone I have yet encountered in comfortable places. As the week wore on, we would nod as we passed and then when I realized you were taking on the role of Boo, I sized you up a bit. I tend to do that too! My first impression was he would make a very fine character such as Boo. One who doesn’t speak too much, yet says everything with his expressions. That is a talent of fine actors, ones who can be on film or on stage and never say a word and their body language and expressions tell an incredible story. Believe it or not you pulled that off flawlessly. I had more fun doing the death scene with you. You made that quite easy once we figured out where we we were going and how far across that stage I needed to be to make an exit. I have never missed a group of people more that I really didn’t know than the mockingbird cast after the show ended and I miss everyone every day.. I was glad you said yes, and everyone else who was on board. I must say, no one had an ego, and not one person I heard, made drama about the cast or anyone else in this production. I never will forget the ten shows we did together and how every single time we stepped on the boards it just got better and better. It was really a joy to work with this group. I didn’t say anything at the time, but once I committed to doing this show, in May, I turned down a few films with a couple of major ones in Louisiana and Georgia. I really felt that it was the right thing to do. As it turns out, it was. You’re right, when you are thrown some unexpected choices, say yes! You’ll never know how good it would have been if you had said No!


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