Playhouse to stage ‘Inherit the Wind’

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By Jenny Hartley

The Community Playhouse of Lancaster County opens its production of “Inherit the Wind” at 8 p.m.  Friday in Stevens Auditorium at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

The production will feature playhouse veterans and several newcomers, including many Sun City Carolina Lakes residents.  

The play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee was written during the McCarthy era, but is loosely based on the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920s.  

The Scopes trial was a legal case that tested the Butler Act, which made it unlawful in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee to teach of any aspect of the theory of evolution. The case was a critical turning point in the United States’ creationism vs. evolution controversy.

After the passage of the Butler Act, the American Civil Liberties Union financed a test case, where Tennessee high school teacher John Scopes intentionally violated the act. Scopes was charged on May 5, 1925, with teaching evolution from a chapter in a textbook that showed ideas developed from those set out in Charles Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species.”

The trial was made infamous by the fictionalized accounts given in the 1955 play “Inherit the Wind” and the 1960 Hollywood motion picture that starred Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly.

The local production is being directed by Susan Capotosto of Fort Mill.

The playhouse will be presenting the play at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Feb. 27 and 28. It will also be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the door and in advance at the Lancaster County Council of the Arts.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens and $10 for children 10 and under.

In partnership with the Lancaster County School District, the playhouse is also presenting the production to high school students in a daytime performance.

The playhouse put together a study guide for the production to prepare students for conversations about the topics presented in the play and will hold a talk-back after the production.  The study guide is also available on the playhouse Web site at www.lancasterplayhouse.com.

For details, call the Lancaster County Council of the Arts at 285-7451.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151