PLAYING FINCH: Veteran actor joins cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’


Mark Huismann plays Atticus Finch in Madison College Performing Arts’ production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Ryan Spoehr, Copy editor

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is set to take the stage at the Mitby Theatre as a production of Madison College Performing Arts. Originally intended to be a fall production, “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be the college’s spring production. The play will feature an experienced, local actor playing the lead role of Atticus Finch.

“I was excited about it,” said Mark Huismann, Madison College student and veteran actor referring to the opportunity of performing in this production. “I’ve been a character actor for a long time and it’s a tremendous part because it’s such a great story and it’s such a great character. I was really excited when I found out and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Huismann will be playing the role of Finch in the play. He has been a character actor on the Madison scene since 1994. He has been in about 40 plays in the city since that time including work with the Madison Shakespeare Company in their first production, “Julius Caesar” as Brutus and Forward Theatre’s Uncivil Disobedience, a play on the Sterling Hall bombing, just recently.

In the Madison College Performing Arts production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Huismann will be playing Atticus Finch, a part that he has not played before. The role is a “high watermark” for him, he said.

“This role is kind of the cherry on top,” he said.

Huismann will be performing the part for the first time, but there will be more firsts for him. Also, he has never done a character play at the Mitby.

Huismann says that Finch has been an intriguing character to play because of the geographical and historical significance of the story and how Finch reacts to it. The play takes place in 1930s Alabama in the midst of racial turmoil in the United States. Huismann says that the character is great because Finch has the typical values of a southerner that made the phrase “southern hospitality” famous, but he is not afraid to point out the bad as well.

“At one point, he is talking to his daughter Scout and talks about how ugly things are going to get with this trial coming up and he says, ‘We’ll be fighting our friends, but no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home,’” Huismann said. “He’s a southerner, but he’s not afraid to point out what’s wrong – what’s really, really wrong – and that’s what makes him a great character.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a gritty production that may include some content hard to handle for some, but the overall message is an important one for all, Huismann said.

“People should know that there is some hateful, hurtful language in this play and tragedy and everything else, but ultimately it’s hopeful. It’s about changing people’s minds even if it’s a real, small step,” he said.

The production is also just as relevant as it has ever been, Huismann said.

“It’s really powerful and just as relevant today on so many levels just on the idea of standing up for what you know is right in a situation when you know everybody – and I mean everybody – is going to stand up in front of you to tell you you’re wrong and still doing it,” Huismann said. “There’s a line that he says in the play, ‘Courage isn’t a man with a knife in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked and you begin anyway and you see it through the end no matter what. You don’t often win, but sometimes you do.’ It’s a great lesson for anyone to learn. I’m so lucky to be a part of this.”

The original novel by Harper Lee, released in 1960, won the Pulitzer. It was also adapted into an Oscar winning film shortly after.

Madison College Performing Arts’ presentation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be March 8, 9, 15 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. It will also have afternoon showings March 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.