To Sorkin a Mockingbird: Screenwriter Will Adapt Novel for Broadway | WBEZ
Skip to main content


To Sorkin a Mockingbird: Screenwriter Will Adapt Novel for Broadway

Theatergoers and book lovers learned earlier this week that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin will be adapting To Kill a Mockingbird for a Broadway production. So what will this beloved American classic sound like in "Sorkin speak"?

Sorkin has this very specific way of writing — quick-witted, smart, caustic, eloquent — and repetitive.

Sorkin's style is so distinctive it has spawned YouTube mashups called "Sorkinisms." He likes to keep his kinetic dialogue and frenetic characters moving — as in his famous "walk and talk" scenes through the corridors of the White House in The West Wing.

By contrast, there is a stillness in To Kill a Mockingbird, in which the fates of men are decided in quiet conversations, where the most important things are left unsaid. The centerpiece of To Kill a Mockingbird is the trial. In the movie, Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch makes a powerful but understated argument on behalf of Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a white woman.

Sorkin can write a pretty good courtroom drama — think Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men — though the tone is decidedly different. (Note: There's some strong language in the clip below.)

But you actually can hear Sorkin's sensibility between the lines of To Kill a Mockingbird because, under Sorkin's caustic exterior, lies the heart of an idealist. After all, he did put these words into the mouth of his cynical anchor in HBO's The Newsroom:

"We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged war on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest."

Granted, he was talking about America in the past, but still ... it sounds a little like Atticus, doesn't it? 

via NPR

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.