Unusual helps bring Harper Lee’s iconic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird' to the Gielgud

5th May 2022

To Kill a Mockingbird made its West End debut at the Gielgud Theatre in March 2022. Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel and directed by Bartlett Sher, the new play, adapted by Aaron Sorkin, is generating rave reviews. Set in Alabama in 1934, this story, its characters and portrait of a small-town America, have helped to, and continue to, inspire conversation and change.

Matt Towell, production manager for the West End production brought Unusual Rigging on board to handle the technical aspects which involved setting out the grid and providing all grid drops, diverts, ladder beams, truss for electrics, mountings for Grid winches and labour to load it in.

He explained: “For this particular show, we had several on site load-in meetings when schedules were changed to allow for lead times and transport. This ensured  that everything ran smoothly from the beginning, with no challenges to timings or deadlines.”

Matt continued: “To Kill a Mockingbird has a heavy front wall so Unusual came up with a scheme to change that bar into single purchase and slave a second cradle to the piece to allow it to fly. There were also several flying pieces that were on the same plane so Unusual drew up and manufactured diverts  and short bars for all of these items. The flown porch also had to be millimetre perfect in order for it to land on the porch lift, so 4 large divert tables were installed for this.”

Given the number of diverts and loadings involved in this production, Matt admits it was a particularly tricky show to load in, mainly due to its size but also because of the number of lifts. As such, sections of stage needed to be removed and this required chain hoists from Unusual. There were also up and downstage walls that all needed to be rigged on chain hoists and then dead hung.

“The show is certainly heavy in areas,” he said. “But fortunately, this is within the main grid capacity. As I have come to expect, Unusual’s approach to the entire project was brilliant from the start. Jeremy Featherstone and Luke MacBride were fantastic on the drawing side, with Mark Davies and the crew pulling out all the stops for the load in, and Simon Stone bringing it all together flawlessly. What more could we ask for?”

Click for larger view