“It’s how I learned to be a critical reader,” reveals Gideon Glick of his first experience with Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” After that “transformative” first read in the seventh grade, the actor now finds himself portraying Dill in Aaron Sorkin’s new Broadway adaptation of the American classic. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Dill is a child in the story, but during the workshop process it was decided that adult actors would play the child roles. Dill (Glick), Scout (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Jem (Will Pullen) all serve as narrators in the play. Though Glick notes that they “weren’t concerned with external aspects” of playing a kid. Instead they focused on what motivated them. Unlike modern times, “they don’t have any entertainment where they can just sit back.” That gave importance to every word uttered. “When we understand the stakes and setting, everything else follows suit.”
Harper Lee based the character Dill off of her friend Truman Capote and Glick incorporated several aspects of the famed writer into his performance. First and foremost was his courageousness, “the fact that he lived his life so in-your-face at a time where that was not acceptable.” Also important to the actor was Capote’s ability to self-mythologize. He sees Dill’s tall tales as a similar tactic. A method the boy uses to “mask a difficult life.”
Glick also took inspiration from one of Capote’s own novels: “Other Voices, Other Rooms.” The protagonist is a 13-year-old queer boy in the deep south, and Glick similarly interprets Dill as a queer character. “I think they’re alluding to it,” he says of Lee’s novel, “how odd he is against everyone else… it’s all coded words.” Much has been written about the queer undertones in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And as the story’s outsider, there are plenty of clues as to Dill’s sexuality. Glick wasn’t taught that angel in school, so it became important to highlight in a modern production. “It’s almost a radical thing that it existed back then” he says, “it feels like a radical queer novel.”
In many ways, Dill is a representative for loss of innocence in the story. Glick observes that for his character, “the first act is about adventure.” In that sense, Dill becomes a symbol of child-like innocence. Then, as he gets caught up in the unjust and racist trial of Tom Robinson, the second act is “disassembling” that innocence. The actor hopes that audiences have a thrilling experience in the theater, but says he also hopes “people see the relevance.” The themes being explored from Lee’s 1960 novel are still present in our world in 2019. “I hope they see that the work is not done.”
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