Theatregoers will have an opportunity for time travel when Inherit the Wind, a co-production of A.C.T. (A Community Theatre) and Trinity United Church, is staged later this month.
That’s because of the up-close-and-personal approach that the director, Rev. John Moses, is using to mount the famous courtroom drama.
“I hope to create for the audience the atmosphere that they have just arrived in the little town of Hillsboro during the week of the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. People will not only be watching (proceedings) but, to some degree, will be involved in them. They’ll be interacting with the townspeople. It’s staged that way so part of the action will take place on the floor,” says Moses of the play that hits the boards of Trinity United Church Hall in Charlottetown, April 24-27.
It will become even more of a reality show on dinner theatre nights (April 24 and 25) when guests will be asked for their opinions on the trial as the townspeople serve them food.
“In our quest to keep it interactive, we’re also going to invite people to get involved in other ways. Each night several audience members will get a summons to jury duty,” says Moses, adding period costumes and props will add to the atmosphere of the play. Inherit the Wind is based on the 1925 trial which resulted in John T. Scopes’ conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to a Tennessee law.
Actor Micah Wiltshire is thrilled to take the journey back in time.
“It’s lots of fun because you get to learn what life was like back then. You also get to see how things have changed over the years,” says the young actor who plays Howard Blair, the 13-year-old boy who testifies in court because his teacher taught evolution.
Terry Pratt is also excited to be involved.
“I enjoy period pieces, and this one, although set 100 years ago, is still recognizable in our world today. This question of whether the Bible is to be taken literally or metaphorically is still around,” says Pratt, who plays Henry Drummond, a character based on lawyer, Clarence Darrow.
“The same goes for the idea of banning books or that free speech in the classroom is maybe not a good idea. All these themes are all part of the play.”
Jennifer Shields was drawn to the play because of the script.
“I like shows about trials .... And this is one of the most famous plays about trials. It has wonderful dialogue and two main characters going head to head. And I just enjoy that,” says Shields, who is the show’s producer.
David Bulger enjoys the play but finds his character challenging. He plays Matthew Harrison Brady, a fundamentalist and a leader of the crusade against the theory of evolution.
“It’s a difficult role. In some respects, it’s possibly the most difficult role that I’ve ever had to play.”
Watching the elements come together pleases Moses.
“Inherit the Wind is a play that I’ve always been fascinated with. It still speaks to relevant themes in our culture such as science versus faith and the right to think versus the right to control thinking.
“One important point I want to make is that it’s not an anti-faith or anti-religion play. “In fact, the subtext of the play is that it’s perfectly possible to be a person of faith and still think and reason.”
AT A GLANCE
Just the facts
- Inherit the Wind will be performed at Trinity United Church Hall in Charlottetown, April 24-27. It's a joint production of A.C.T. (A Community Theatre) and Trinity United Church.
- The first two performances, April 24-25, begin with dinner at 6 p.m. Theatregoers can also opt for the play only, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
- On April 26 and 27, play-only performances are at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.
- For all tickets, call Trinity United Church at 892-4114. Dinner tickets must be reserved by April 21. For information about the play, call 675-3672.