Editor: Like many Islanders on Sunday afternoon in the Trinity United Church gym, my wife Shirley and I watched a most powerful play, the ACT/Trinity United production of Jerome Lawrence’s and Robert E. Lee’s Inherit the Wind. We had seen other ACT dramas like Our Town, but none can compare to the intensity of Inherit the Wind which, for a number of reasons, was riveting!
First, the production triggered my own thoughts about drama and a neglected right today. Aristotle in his Poetics writes about catharsis, meaning a purgation of feeling especially in a tragedy during which the audience works through the emotional highs and lows of the tragic figure.
I realize that Lawrence and Lee do not intend Inherit the Wind to be a Greek tragedy, but as I watched the plot unfold and the rising, dramatic, feverish exchange between Matthew Brady (David Bulger) and Henry Drummond (Terry Pratt), I felt what was really on trial was not so much Genesis vs. Darwin, but the struggle in our hearts between the God-given right to think and any tragic suppression of legitimate thought. Such a realization may not have been a purgation, but we came away more cognizant we have Inherit the Wind narratives all around us.
Second, I could not say the above had we not witnessed a quality production. Immediately, we felt involved as the huge cast ambled up not to the stage, but directly in front of the audience to make us experience we were in the play too. The next thing that struck me was the clarity and force of the all the voices, especially David Bulger’s and Terry Pratt’s. But by far, the crisp, charged dialogue kept us on the edge of our seats until the climax and the powerful irony from the journalist E.K. Hornbeck (character based on E.L. Menchen) that the so-called atheist Henry Drummond in his defense of the right to think may have been closer to God than he thought.
To all — director, cast, and production team, thank you for a production that will long remain with us. Play on!
Bernard J. Callaghan,