This September, Cardinal Stage Company is bringing what many consider to be the Great American Novel to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. To Kill a Mockingbird, the play adaptation of the novel by Harper Lee, explores racism and morality as seen through the eyes of a young girl in 1930s Alabama.

Cardinal’s production of this play was inspired by Indiana University’s fall Themester, titled Good Behavior, Bad Behavior: Molecules to Morality. “What we try to do with the Themester project is take the resources of the university and do some sort of educational component,” explains Cardinal Stage Artistic Director Randy White, whose goal is to spread the Themester beyond IU. “We’re able to take the theme and work on it in a way that engages the public schools.”

In the past, Cardinal has provided schools with educational materials about their productions in order to enrich the student experience. This season, White says Cardinal is “completely revamping our website” to make these materials available to everyone who goes to the play, including special sections just for teachers and students. The website will also link to QR codes on the programs that smartphone users can scan. White has mixed feelings about this technological advance. He’s excited but, he admits, “It’s kind of crazy to ask people to use their phones right before a show.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is the first play to be part of a new program called Cardinal for Schools. “Schools can only afford to pay a small amount per ticket, but we need to charge a certain amount to cover the cost of the special school matinees,” says White. “So we’re going to cover the gap.” Cardinal’s goal is to raise $30,000 to bring 3,000 students to its four plays that are relevant to students this season.

Although it’s an American classic, the book To Kill a Mockingbird has a controversial history and has been banned in some schools because of its sensitive subject matter and racial slurs. However, Cardinal isn’t backing away from any of the content. “In Mockingbird, it’s clear whose side you’re on from the beginning,” says White, adding that none of the language will be changed for any of the shows.

To Kill a Mockingbird runs from September 7 to 16 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. To order tickets, click here.