GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Long before Americans debated the teaching of “intelligent design,” the nation watched the battle between evolution and creationism play out in a small-town Tennessee courtroom.
The cast of “The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial,” a play based on the famous 1925 trial of biology teacher John T. Scopes, will talk about the trial and its impact on American society in a free-ranging discussion in the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law at noon Jan. 17.
Ed Asner, James Cromwell, and Sharon Gless are among the well-known actors who appear in the play, which is based on transcripts of the Scopes trial. Produced by L.A. Theatre Works, one of the nation’s leading producers of radio theater, the play has been touring the country with a rotating cast. It will be performed at the University Auditorium Jan. 17 and Jan. 18.
Several members of the play’s cast are expected to speak at the law school panel discussion, to be moderated by associate dean Kathleen Price. Because cast members will also appear at other events on campus, a roster of speakers for the law school event is not yet available.
Price said panelists will discuss the trial itself, as well as the difficulties of reconstructing a play from trial transcripts, and the process of getting “into character” while playing famous orators such as Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan.
“We plan to ask the actors why they feel it is important to do this play at this time in history,” she said. “The debate about evolution and creationism in the public school curriculum is once again a topic of national debate, and the Scopes trial is one of the first cases that addressed this issue.”
The panel discussion is open to the public. Media coverage of the event is welcome. Space at the event is limited, so media representatives should contact the law school’s Communications Office at (352) 273-0650 if they plan to attend. Journalists should plan to arrive at 11:45 a.m., or earlier if they need to set up equipment.
The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 and again at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at the University Auditorium. For tickets, call (352) 392-ARTS. For press inquiries, contact UF Performing Arts Marketing Coordinator Amy Bagner at (352) 392-1900, ext. 324.
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