In Part 8 of a series of interviews with the cast and director of To Kill a Mockingbird at Rockville Little Theatre, meet Grant Williams.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on local stages.
My name is Grant Williams and I’ve been acting for 15 years. As a recent Chicago transplant, I’ve only just begun with the honor of imitating life in the local community theatre, and this is the first production I’ve been a part of locally. So far so good, and I know that it’s going to be a wonderful experience.
Why did you want to appear in this production of To Kill a Mockingbird?
Who do you play in the show and how do you personally relate to your character?
I play Horace Gilmore, AKA “Gilmer”. Prosecuting attorney against Tom Robinson. Gilmer refuses to believe the truth about the broken parts of his moral compass. Complete denial that there is anything wrong with him or how he believes I believe every human could be held accountable to that concept in some respect, especially myself.
What is To Kill a Mockingbird about from the point of view of your character?
The loss of innocence, and the pressures of seeking justice during a very difficult time in our country. Poor Mayella Ewell. Just hanging out on her porch trying to fix a door, and then gets taken advantage of by an uncontrollable black man.
What scene or scenes were the most difficult to learn and why?
When Gilmer is cross examining Tom Robinson in Act II. It’s very electric and intense. Gilmer says some pretty ugly things to Tom to prove to the Jury that he is a dangerous black man that rapes women, and needs to be put away. As an actor, villainous acts always stretch me, and I hope they always do. Huge shout out to Don Hensley, who plays Tom Robinson. Awesome actor. Playing off his energy is what really sells the scene to the audience.
Which scene or scenes moves you the most? And why?
Jem’s reaction to Atticus shooting the mad dog. You can see it on his face that his father just earned hero status. That’s a huge moment and hits me personally.
Why is this show relevant for today’s theatregoers?
In today’s society the concept of “all men are created equal” has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. The entire cast is familiar with this theme, and retelling this story is going to be important for a long time. The tragedy is that back then people were open about their negative feelings toward other races, but now it’s mostly taboo. For instance, the word ‘nigger’ may be a highly frowned upon term, yet all the more present as it was back then. It’s probably safe to say that the world is even more dishonest with itself then it use to be, which is why it’s important that these kinds of stories must be told over and over again.
What have you learned about yourself as a person and an actor while learning and rehearsing your role?
The same thing I learn over and over again any time I’m in a show. That I’m a completely rambunctious human being and actor. Haha. High energy, overly confident, a complete disregard to the opinions of others, and I have absolutely no shame. If there is any other hobby out there besides theatre where I’m not surrounded by others of the same caliber, please tell me before I fall further into my abyss of madness. :)
What was the best advice your director gave you on preparing and playing your character?
That Gilmer denies the truth about the Tom Robinson case, and himself. That one resonates with me each time that I’m digging into the scene on stage.
For those people who love the film, what is different about the stage version and why should they come see it live on the stage?
The connection you’ll have with fresh faces, and a fresh perspective. Anything live will always have a different kind of energy then what was perceived on screen.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in To Kill a Mockingbird?
A harsh reminder of what it was like to navigate through these issues when we were young. Scout processes through a lot of confusing ‘stuff’ in regard to society in that day in age, which is sadly not that much different. I might be even more confusing today then it was back then to a certain degree. If there is anybody that can’t connect this show with their inner 12 year old self, then they simply didn’t have a childhood.
To Kill a Mockingbird plays from April 24 to May 3, 2015 at Rockville Little Theatre performing at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at The Rockville Civic Center- 603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville MD. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 314-8690, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 1: Nancy Lark.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 2: Kieran Duffy.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 3: Stuart Rick.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 4: Kevin Page.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 5: Sydney Lauricella-Reed.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 6: Liz Weber.
Meet the Cast of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at Rockville Little Theatre: Part 7: Jill Goodrich.