Inherit The Wind Tickets
Currently being brought back onto Broadway in a revival, Inherit the Wind is a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. It borrows its title from Proverbs 11:29, from the King James Bible and explores the themes of religious belief, religious tolerance, and freedom of thought.
Inherit the Wind fictionalizes the account of the 1925 Scopes Trial (the "Monkey" Trial) which resulted in Scopes' conviction for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to a Tennessee state law that mandated the teaching of a form of creationism. The historical figures of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, John Scopes, and H.L. Mencken correspond to the fictional characters of Matthew Harrison Brady, Henry Drummond, Bertram Cates and E. K. Hornbeck, respectively.
The play Inherit the Wind broadway was intended to be a warning about the evils of McCarthyism, which some see as one of the darkest moments in American history and has been hailed as one of the great American plays of the 20th century. Inherit the Wind was rejected by several producers in the beginning and opened at the National Theatre on Broadway in 1955 with Paul Muni as Drummond, Ed Begley as Brady, and Tony Randall as Hornbeck, earning three Tony Awards.
Though Inherit the Wind heavily borrows from the trial transcript, it does not present the Scopes trial as it actually happened. Every thing is fictionalized and embellished for dramatic effect. It was intended to criticize the anti-Communist investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, with the Brady character representing McCarthy and his assistant Roy Cohn. Brady's final fit of ranting and raving in the courtroom has no counterpart in the 1925 trial but it echoes McCarthy's behavior on June 17, 1954, when the Army-McCarthy Hearings came to an abrupt end.
A note is carefully added reminding the reader that ?Inherit the Wind is not history? and ?does not pretend to be journalism?. The characters have different names from the historical figures on whom they are based and the play is not set in 1925, creating a feeling of timelessness. So, this can be seen as a warning about repeating the wrongs of the past, which can recur unless we are vigilant. In its original Broadway run, Inherit the Wind was a critique of McCarthyism but since then many interpretations have been more literal.
Even with these authors' warnings, nowadays, people typically see it as a true account of the Scopes Trial and is thus taken as a documentary-drama. In reality, there is no entry for the Scopes trial in Encyclopedia Britannica until 1957 and as it mentions the successful Broadway run of Inherit the Wind, it gives the impression that the play was historically accurate. In recent decades, school texts and encyclopedia entries have continued to take the play and film as historically accurate, claiming, for example, that during the trial, Darrow made Bryan look like a fool.
The play Inherit the Wind portrays the Cates/Scopes character as unfairly persecuted but in reality, a group of Dayton businessmen persuaded Scopes to be a defendant, hoping that the publicity would help put the town back on the map and revive its ailing economy. Scopes was never in the slightest danger of being jailed. The character of Reverend Jeremiah Brown whips his congregation into frenzy and calls down hellfire on his own daughter for being engaged to Cates and this leads to criticism of Inherit the Wind broadway for unfairly stereotyping Christians as hostile, hate-filled bigots. This, in fact never happened in reality as Scopes had no girlfriend.
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