INHERIT THE WIND

by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee

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SEPT. 9th - 25th

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"I had the book in my hand, Hunter's Civic Biology. I opened it up and read my sophomore class chapter 17, Darwin's Origin of Species." 

(Inherit The Wind)

           

            Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee's American classic courtroom drama is a fictionalized account of the infamous "Scopes Monkey Trial" in 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, when high school science teacher John Scopes was arrested for introducing his students to Darwin's theory of evolution. When activists on both sides of this newly-emerging controversy became aware of the doings in Dayton, two legal giants on opposite sides of the question entered the picture: Clarence Darrow for the defense and William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution.  The Baltimore Sun even sent H. L. Mencken to cover the trial.  Dayton--and evolution--were on the map. The trial itself was a show, and the issue almost as combustible now as it was then.

           Although the play was completed in 1950, it took 5 years for the writers to get a production of it mounted due to its controversial content.

          

           

           Brigit Saint Brigit opens Inherit The Wind* on September 9 in partnership with the First Central Congregational Church's first annual "Science And Spirituality" Colloquium, a month of events exploring the relationship between mind and spirit.  Events include after-show talkbacks, panel discussions, and presentations.

            Said BSB Artistic Director, Cathy Kurz, "Talking with Pastor Scott Jones about being a part of this event generated so many ideas for engaging the community.  The scholars and other participants are thoughtful and energizing--the subject vibrant. Inherit will especially thrive in this celebration of reason and imagination." Along with the play, events will include talks and talkbacks with scientists and historians. 

           In speaking about the impetus for the "Science and Spirituality" idea, Jones commented: "We humans possess the power to think, yet many fear thoughts that challenge faith."  This event "will model the connections between the two and how using our minds well is an expression of our faith. . . spirituality and academic pursuits encourage one another."

 

"The 'Evolution' of the Monkey Trial

Following the performances on Sept. 11th, 17th, and 24th, Fred Nielsen of the UNO history department will explore the story behind "Inherit the Wind," and lead a talkback with audience and actors.  

            A specialist in American cultural and intellectual history, Dr. Nielsen has taught at UNO for over 20 years.  A member of the Nebraska Humanities Speakers, he has frequently spoken across the state on a variety of historical topics.  He has been an interviewer on the nationally syndicated radio program, Talking History.

            "The 1925 trial," says Nielsen, "of Tennessee biology teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution was a contest highlighted by clashes between the nation's most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, and the three-time Presidential candidate, Nebraska's reform-minded William Jennings Bryan.  The protagonists saw it as a battle between science and religion that had been building for years.  The play uses the events of the so-called Monkey Trial to tell a version of the original story, but also to tell a new one, a 'parable' (as one of its writers put it) for a new era."    

           The play premiered on Broadway in 1955, with Paul Muni and Ed Begley and ran for more than two years.  Its many stage revivals have featured the likes of George C. Scott, Charles Durning, Christopher Plummer, Brian Dennehy, and Kevin Spacey.  The memorable 1960 screen adaptation starred Spencer Tracy and Fredric March.

 

Past Productions

 

--First production debuted on Bdwy on April 21, 1955, played over 800 performances.  Featured Paul Muni, Ed Begley, and Tony Randall.

--Revived on Bdwy in 1997 with George C. Scott as Drummond and Charles Durning as Brady

--Revived on Bdwy in 2007 with Christopher Plummer as Drummond and Brian Dennehy as Brady

--Revived at the Old Vic in London in 2009 with Kevin Spacey as Drummond and David Troughton as Brady

 

Notable Screen Adaptations 

 

The play has been adapted for the screen four times, the most famous of which was the first in 1960, starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March.  Other versions included the team of Melvyn Douglas and Ed Begley (1965), Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas (1988), and George C. Scott and Beau Bridges (1999).

  

Critical Acclaim

          "One of the most outstanding dramas of our time. The portrait it draws of an explosive episode in American culture . . remains as fresh as it ever was. Bursting with vitality . . . Literature of the stage" (New York Times)

 

          "A masterpiece.  This is the test: to see a play once, twice, three times.  And each time to leave the theatre as deeply moved, as enlightened, as lifted up, as magnificently entertained.  As as convinced that it is one of the truly great American dramas of the 20th century."  (Scripps-Howard)

 

         "Brilliant . . . a colorful, picturesque and absorbing, exciting essay in dramatic Americana . . . "  (The New York Post)

 

Background Links

https://library.osu.edu/blogs/theatre-research-institute/2015/10/09/sixty-years-of-inherit-the-wind/

 

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/inherit/1996home.html

 

 

*Because this production was moved from June to Sept., members holding 2015/2016 season tickets will be admitted at no charge.

 “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:

and the fool shall be servant to the wise heart,” Proverbs 11:29.