Pages Navigation Menu

Delivering News From The Source

Inherit the Wind

During a moving scene in Inherit the Wind the cast is seen recreating a southern charismatic bible meeting.

During a moving scene in Inherit the Wind the cast is seen recreating a southern, charismatic bible meeting.

By: Molly Maschka

“The play brings the idea of where did we come from,” said Dr. Robert AuFrance, the director of Waldorf Theatre Department, who is directing the upcoming play Inherit the Wind. “As Martin Luther once said ‘it is ok to question God’s works because that is where life began.”

Inherit the Wind, a play written written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, sets the stage in 1920’s Tennessee. The play tells the story of a school teacher who is put on trial for teaching evolutionism in his classroom. The character, Bertram Cates, violates the Butler Act, a state law prohibiting public school teachers from teaching evolution, instead of creationism, within their classrooms. Waldorf freshman, Tony Wise, will play Bertram Cates, with Caitlyn Rusk as his romantic interest. Along with Wise and Rusk, freshmen Martin Banks (who plays the father), plus Assistant Theatre director David Sollish and  Dr. Robert AuFrance (the lawyers) will finish out the leading cast for the upcoming show. AuFrance stated this is an interesting cast and is looking forward to opening night.

Evolution, according to the teachings of Darwinism, is the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth. This type of teaching has been a controversial issue for many years. Biology professor Paul Bartelt says the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” triggered the topic, along with the plot behind Inherit the Wind.

“The Scopes Monkey trial began when biology teacher John Scopes, who taught evolution to a class of high school students in Dayton, Tennessee,” said Bartelt. “This action broke the 1925 Butler Act of Tennessee, which prohibited the teaching of anything contrary to biblical teachings; the ACLU (through trial lawyer Clarence Darrow) decided to challenge the Act in court – hence the Monkey trial. Like all dramatic productions, Inherit the Wind takes some dramatic license.”

In collaboration with the theatre department, Bartelt, along with several biology students, will present presentations on evolution before each show. Bartelt will give some historical context to the broad issues addressed by Inherit the Wind. He will focus on questions that were raised during the trial.

Bartelt is glad the Theatre Department is putting on Inherit the Wind because there is many connections tied with Waldorf.

“While the purchase of Waldorf College five years ago broke our formal ties to the ELCA, Waldorf still proudly maintains its Lutheran tradition. A big part of that tradition is the courage to ask any question and explore any issue,” said Bartelt. “One of those issues that can make people uncomfortable is the intersection of science and religion. Because we understand our physical world so much differently than when the Bible was written, we also understand parts of scripture differently, and this can raise important, deep questions for many people. We still address these kinds of questions in at least Biology and Religion classes here at Waldorf. I honestly cannot think of a better venue than an ELCA school to ask and pursue these kinds of questions, and Inherit the Wind begs such questions. The play is an effective way to set this stage and I thank the theater department for producing it.”

Performances of Inherit the Wind will be April 8th-11th at Waldorf College Smith’s Theatre.