Producer Scott Rudin this morning announced plans to bring Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird to Broadway during the 2017-2018 season. Aaron Sorkin, who scripted Rudin’s The Social Network and Steve Jobs films, is adapting the novel. The play will be staged by Bartlett Sher, director of this season’s acclaimed revival of Fiddler On The Roof. No other details were announced.
Mockingbird has had previous stage incarnations, though none at this level. Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of the novel has been produced widely over the last quarter-century, including a 2013 London staging at the Barbican starring Robert Sean Leonard, and a perennial amateur production in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, AL. But rights to a first-class Broadway and LORT production were retained by Lee until Rudin began pursuing them some two years ago.
The plans were first reported in the New York Times, where Rudin pointedly noted that, “The Atticus we do is going to be the Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird.” The producer was referring to last summer’s publication of Go Set A Watchman, an early draft of Mockingbird that is set 20 years after the events in Harper Lee’s bestselling novel. In Watchman, the wise, benevolent lawyer portrayed in Mockingbird — and forever embodied by Gregory Peck in the 1962 film — has devolved into an embittered racist.
In the run-up to the 2-million-plus print run of Watchman, there was considerable debate over the now 89-year-old author’s ability to approve its publication. In this case, her literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg, approved Rudin and his plans, according to the Times.