Hi everyone! In English class, my group is doing a play re-enactment of Tom Robinson's Testimony. We would like some advice on how to perform the play in character. For example, I am playing Tom Robinson so would it be a good idea to have some props like a bible or pretending I only had one hand? Please keep in mind that this is a English project and not a drama performance so it doesn't need to be too complicated. Thanks!
I agree with lmetcalf with regard to Tom's respect for the legal process. He would be very uncomfortable with the situation, however. He would still be mindful of the codes of "proper" behavior for a black man, so he would make eye contact with very few of the white people. He would be comfortable with Atticus, as well as seeing Atticus as a source of comfort. He believes in his own innocence and is naive enough to believe that this will be enough for Atticus to save him. The standards of upright honesty is how he lived, and he believes this is what will happen in court.
I think a successful performance would also have to consider how he would feel as he looked around the courtroom. Would make eye contact with Mayella who has already lied on the stand? Would he make contact with the jury? He certainly would be constantly aware of Atticus, and act in response to him. He would be very respectful of the court process and of what was asked of him. He understands what is act stake and wouldn't do anything to jeopardize his case's outcome. He would act in a very dignified manner, being as earnest and direct as possible with his speech.
Key to the understanding of Tom Robinson's character is his ingenuousness. While he is fearful of the situation in which he is placed as being accused of raping Mayella Ewell, Tom is naive enough to believe in the power of truth. Encouraged by this belief, Tom is candid about what has occurred and his feelings. When he is convicted even though the jury must know he is innocent, Tom's faith in mankind is completely shattered.
As one of the mockingbirds of To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom's character displays a child-like faith and integrity throughout the trial mixed with a fear spawned from his awareness of Jim Crow Laws. Thus, in playing the part of Tom Robinson, the student may wish to try to seem very unassuming, then anxious and fearful as the trial progresses.