For the Southampton Cultural Center's latest production, Center Stage and director Michael Disher takes on a classic — and controversial — play.
"Inherit the Wind," by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, is a fictionalized account of the The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, more commonly known at the Scopes Monkey Trial. The case arose in 1925 when high school teacher John Scopes was accused of violating the state's prohibition against teaching evolution in a public school.
According to the Cultural Center, the playwrights impugn McCarthyism using the historical Scopes trial as the background for a drama that comments on and explores the threats to intellectual freedom presented by the anti-communist hysteria.
“I cannot think of any subjects more valuable and volatile to teach than science, politics, religious beliefs and freedom of speech,” Disher said. “This theatrical event will, most assuredly, inspire heated debate and discussion.”
The fictional characters Matthew Harrison Brady, Henry Drummond, Bertram Cates and E. K. Hornbeck correspond to the historical figures of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, Scopes and H. L. Mencken, respectively.
Mencken reported on the trial for The Baltimore Sun, and attorneys Bryan — a three-time presidential candidate — and Darrow were close friends at one time, but were at odds at the trial.
The cast includes Daniel Becker, Vincent Carbone, Terrance Fiore, Richard Gardini, Barbara Jo Howard, Deborah Marshall, Matthew Peraza, Tony Peraza, Philip Reichert, Jack Seabury, Stephan Scheck, Amanda Stein, Alan Stewart and Douglas Walter.
Performances run from runs Oct. 11 to 28 at the Southampton Cultural Center. Showtimes are Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Call 631-287-4377 for tickets, or order online.
There will be an additional two matinee performances for local students, followed by a "talk back" with the cast, on Oct. 15 and 16.