Okay—so I was thinking about plays I’d like to direct… mostly works that I feel need to be seen on a regular basis because their message needs to be remembered: The Laramie Project, Twelve Angry Men, The Diary of Anne Frank, Our Town, The Crucible and, finally, Inherit the Wind.
I had been thinking for awhile that Inherit the Wind was ripe for revival in light of the recent debates over teaching evolution vs. “intelligent design.” We’d swung over to only teaching Darwinism and the religious right was up in arms. Well, it all seems silly to me—both concepts are just theories.
We have no idea what actually happened—and never will. Why not teach all of it. I mean, the more enlightened you are, the better. We sure act like apes. Actually, we act more like asses—our having descended from them seems much more likely…..
What do you all think?
[Interesting sidebar….. in conversing with some fellow directors, I learned an amazing fact about the events that inspired Inherit the Wind, the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” The whole thing was planned! And John Scopes, who was a high school football coach and had substituted for Principal Ferguson in a science class, volunteered to stand trial!! You see, the ACLU wanted to challenge the newly passed Butler Act in Tennessee.
On March 21, 1925, Tennessee governor Austin Peay signed into law a statute outlawing the teaching of "any theory that denies the divine creation of man and teaches instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." The ACLU placed ads in local papers looking for someone willing to be their test case. The deal was brokered at a drugstore in Dayton, TN.
Okay—that’s weird enough. But what’s really crazy about the whole thing is that businessmen in Dayton sought out the ACLU cause they wanted to get publicity for the town in hopes of attracting visitors to the area. George Rappleyea, who managed several local mines, convinced the group that the controversy of such a trial would give Dayton much needed publicity.
Adding to the irony of all of this is the fact that the state required teachers to use a textbook, which explicitly described and endorsed the theory of evolution, and that teachers were therefore effectively required to break the law. Truth is stranger than fiction.]