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Monday, February 20, 2006

Inherit the What?

The “trial of the century” is “loosely recreated” in a play that will open tomorrow at the Geva Theater Center in Rochester, NY, reports Stuart Low in today’s Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee “took many lines directly from the Scopes Trial transcripts” for their play, Inherit the Wind, but also added dialogue and a few townspeople characters for some “country spice.” The play’s got “jailhouse romance, plenty of singing and a set that recreates downtown Dayton, Tenn., circa 1925. A courtroom dominates the front of the stage…”

"...the play’s battles rage on today," says director Skip Greer, referring to the current debate over intelligent design. "It's about the right of individuals to speak out."

There aren’t many forums available for true dialogue. We want to stimulate a conversation in the community.

Well, that sounds good…

But, says Seneca Park Zoo education director Ruth Rosenberg, as quoted in the article, “Many people resist viewing both sides of this story. Some folks still ask us not to use the word evolution. So when our Zoomobile goes to schools, we use the term ’change over time.'"

Hmmm.

According to the article, Greer “isn’t encouraging his actors to give carbon-copy impersonations of the Scopes Trial celebrities. Nor does he want a rerun of the popular 1960 movie of Inherit the Wind,” because the personal characteristics (speech patterns and physicality) of the original characters portrayed are “irrelevant.”

I suppose he is saying that the content of the debate is what’s most important, and that’s admirable. But I’m not sure why it’s important, then, that the set recreate downtown Dayton, Tenn. circa 1925, or that the play be entitled Inherit the Wind and feature a courtroom battle involving a teacher. But maybe I’m missing something.

(side note of interest: apparently, William Jennings Bryan spoke at the 1908 New York Democratic Convention held in the Geva building.)

2 Comments:

  • Have you seen the film? It's a very good piece of propaganda (well, it's also very well done B&W filmmaking).

    Now... it's been over 80 years since the Scopes trial and the battle is still being fought in the courtroom (e.g., Dover). This, despite almost 50 years of increased science education (thanks to Sputnik). It kind of makes you wonder, just what are all those evolutionary theory proponents doing wrong?

    By Anonymous Rusty, at 12:26 AM  

  • LOL, Rusty. I haven't seen the movie, but have read Smithsonian magazine's article on the Scopes trial.

    This play effort seems a bit disingenuous, don't you think?

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:13 PM  

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