"Religion's supposed to comfort people, isn't it? Not frighten them to death!"
Starting at 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday at the Bartlesville High School Fine Arts Center, the acting students will present their production of the classic play, "Inherit the Wind" by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. This story covers the events that occurred during the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. The trial questioned the validity of a Tennessee law which banned the teaching of evolution, or "evil-ution," in public schools.
Ticket may be purchased in advance by calling the Bartlesville High School Theatre Department at 918-336-3311 ext. 5088. Ticket prices for students are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Adults are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Legendary lawyers William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow are represented in the play by the characters Matthew Harrison Brady and Henry Drummond, respectively.
The atmosphere of the Rhea County Courthouse during the revolutionary trial was even more fiery than the stifling heat of the southern summer. The fervent debate between two brilliant men drew hundreds from far and wide, and the Holy Bible was pitted against Darwin's theory of evolution as explained in "The Origin of Species."
It is in regard to this competitive tension that the playwrights wrote, "The Bible is a book. It's a good book, but it is not the only book." While the jury's decision of Scopes' guilt was definite, scientific evidence in favor of evolution gained significant publicity through this trial, and many viewed the outcome of the case as opposite of what it truly was. Reporters at the time asserted that William Jennings Bryan won the case, but lost the argument.
The events of the trial are recounted in "Inherit the Wind" with tremendous force, phenomenal insight, and brilliant manipulation of the English language. The townspeople of "Heavenly Hillsboro" are fervent in their beliefs, and they make it clear that any dissenting opinions are unwelcome in their municipality.
The actors depict the true feelings of the historical figures accurately and consistently throughout the show.
Josh Higgs, who plays Henry Drummond, remarked, "'Inherit the Wind' is a phenomenal play based on historic events, and one of the lines that I feel best describes the issue at the heart of the play is 'You don't suppose this sort of thing is ever really finished, do you?'"
His character's foil, Matthew Harrison Brady, is played by Spencer Hayes.
Hayes said, "It's not very often that you find a high school with such a high caliber of student talent as you will find here, and when you pair that talent with such powerful literature as 'Inherit the Wind,' you are guaranteed a performance that will leave the audience speechless and challenged in the best of ways."
William Kampa plays the man on trial, Bertram Cates, and Cates' fiancè, Rachel Brown, is played by Olivia Orr.
Orr said, "'Inherit the Wind' is a great show about something we are still talking about now. It has been so much fun getting to tell this story and create the characters with my friends!"