It's a playdate

Dec. 9, 2010

‘Mockingbird’ will be Feb. 22-24, at the Flagler Auditorium.

Two months after Flagler Palm Coast High School’s cancelation of the play version of Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” made headlines around the state and beyond, it’s official: The play will go on, after all.

Ed Koczergo, drama director at FPC, said the play will be performed Feb. 22 to Feb. 24, at the Flagler Auditorium. Nothing will be edited from the script, meaning the N-word will be used.
“It is written with historical, literary and cultural context and must be played as is, or it loses its thematic value,” Koczergo said via e-mail.

He said the decision to stage the play was the right one.

“This says that the school district and FPC can step back from a decision that, though made with the best intentions, went terribly awry, reassess the situation, and turn a controversy into a lesson for both students and community,” he Koczergo said.

The director also said he was proud of the students who have persevered through the distractions.
Shawn-Michael Manniel, a sophomore, is prepared for his first stage performance as Bob Ewell, the villain of the play — and the main character who says the N-word.

He said he likes playing Ewell. “That’s obviously not who I am, but it shows how people were like back then,” he said of the play, which was set in 1930s. He added that the play’s main character, Atticus Finch, is an example of how to stand up for what’s right.

Mannie’s mother, Veronica Manniel, suggested the concerns for student safety were likely blown out of proportion, and she was never worried about her son’s safety.

While the school deliberated, the students performed a placeholder play dramatizing Aesop’s fables. Veronica Manniel said that after that production, so few people attended — just parents and friends of the actors, really — that it became clear the concerns were unfounded.

“We were looking at each other like, ‘Uh, we’re the only ones here,’” she said. “Nothing would have happened, I’m sure.”

Shawn-Michael Manniel said he hopes the media attention will result in better attendance for “Mockingbird.”

One person who will show up is Maxine Kronick, founder of Theateriffic, in Flagler Beach.

“What good has come from this?” she said via e-mail. “The ‘Mockingbird’ will land.”

Koczergo said that to make room for the production, FPC may reschedule its mystery-thriller “13 Past Midnight” to March. The spring musical “The Wizard of Oz” will not be affected.

Tickets will be available for purchase in January.