Broadway Adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Center of Lawsuit Filed by Harper Lee’s Estate

Harper Lee signed a contract in 2015 with the production company Rudinplay. Two clauses from this contract are cited in the lawsuit, filed in Alabama federal court by Tonja Carter, the estate representative. One clause states that the play “shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” The other specifies that Lee “shall have the right to review the script of the play and to make comments which shall be considered in good faith by the playwright.”

Aaron Sorkin, hired by the production company to write the play, has stated that the adaptation would show the evolution of the character of Atticus Finch, and that early on in the play the character would be in “denial” about the racism in the world around him. The representative of Lee’s estate has claimed that the play portrays Atticus as “rude and selfish” and less dignified than in the book.

The lawsuit is seeking a declaratory judgment that Rudinplay does not have the final authority to determine whether the adaptation remains consistent with the spirit of the novel. The suit is also seeking a declaratory judgment that the play and its characters are not in keeping with the novel’s spirit.

More Resources:

Carter v. Rudinplay, Inc. – Docket Report

Harper Lee’s estate sues over Atticus Finch’s depiction in planned Broadway adaptation, ABA Journal, March 15, 2018

Photo credit: