Gripping courtroom drama to hit Kanata Theatre stage

Gripping courtroom drama to hit Kanata Theatre stage– Image 1

Gripping courtroom drama to hit Kanata Theatre stage– Image 1

Paul Behncke, Submitted
Kanata Theatre's production of 'Inherit the Wind', based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, opens Tuesday, May 13 at the Ron Maslin Playhouse.
West Carleton Review

Contrary to popular belief, 'Inherit the Wind' is not simply about the debate between creation and evolution highlighted in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.

There three-time U.S. presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and famous attorney Clarence Darrow locked horns.

Instead, this famous play uses the setting of the trial to debate the individual's right to have contrary ideas and the freedom to express them.

None are as passionate about ideas as the young, so it comes as no surprise that Rachel Davies, a recent Canterbury Arts graduate, should be drawn to the eloquent script and want to see it performed on the Kanata Theatre stage May 13 to 24.

"Inherit the Wind presents many important issues such as freedom of thought and the importance of progress," says Davies.

"Questioning and re-evaluating how we think, what we do, and how we do it are key ways to progress forward as individuals and as a society.

"I see many parallels between the play and our world today. The foremost for me is the lack of progress in our education systems. It takes an inordinate amount of time for new material to be allowed in the classrooms, just as it did back then. For example, many sexual education and mental health curricula have not been updated since the 1990s to include new research.

"For me, the greatest challenge is the scope of this play. It is such a massive production and a very well-known play, so there are many standards to live up to."

Davies brings more than youthful enthusiasm to her task. Along with her Canterbury credit, she was part of an ensemble at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and studied at the Stratford Shakespeare School.

She shares her first directing stint with veteran actor/director Alain Chamsi. "Alain has been very gracious to help guide me through my first time directing," she says.

"It has been a challenge, but a very rewarding one. It's incredibly exciting to bounce ideas off one another and have them come alive onstage."

Inherit the Wind runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way, just off Terry Fox Drive in Walter Baker Park. The curtains rise at 8 p.m. The Playhouse is fully accessible. Parking is abundant and free.

For more information or to purchase tickets ($20), contact the box office at 613-831-4435 or visit www.kanatatheatre.com.

Top
Kanata Theatre

May 3, 2014

By Jim Holmes

DARWIN ON TRIAL IN RON MASLIN PLAYHOUSE

Kanata Theatre is about to recreate one of the most famous court trials of the 20th century.

In the steamy summer of 1925 the eyes of America were riveted on the small town of Dayton, Tennessee where two of the country’s legal giants were locking horns. At issue was the great question of whether man had truly descended from monkeys as the proponents of Darwin’s theories of evolution and natural selection seemed to argue or whether the earth came into being as the result of a Divine act of creation as described in the book of Genesis.

Each side in the struggle had a champion. For the prosecution came William Jennings Bryan who had dominated American politics for almost three decades. Three times the Democratic Party nominee for president, he had acquired the stature of public hero- a champion of the people- associated with the women’s suffrage and temperance movements. He had even served as Secretary of State in the Woodrow Wilson administration.

For the evolutionists there was Clarence Darrow, one of the best legal minds in the country. Darrow had rechanneled a successful Chicago practice so that he could  devote his talents to the downtrodden and the disadvantaged. Just a year before the “monkey trial” he had succeeded in saving the notorious child killers Leopold and Loeb from the electric chair. Now he was going to make the defense of a young teacher named Scopes a national cause.

Inherit the Wind, based on the events of 1925, is the work of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, probably the longest playwriting collaboration in U.S. history. Their partnership created almost 40 plays, including Auntie Mame and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Inherit the Wind is a fictionalized account of the monkey trial. The names of the characters have all been changed and even the identity of the town has been concealed. Events have been rearranged, invented and condensed to meet the demands of the stage.

Since its first production Inherit the Wind has been a popular fixture on stages the world over. It is still on the curriculum in many high schools. And of course it was an oscar nominated film starring Spencer Tracey, Fredric March and Gene Kelly.

Kanata Theatre’s production of Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way, just off Terry Fox in Walter Baker Park, from Tuesday to Saturday May 13 to 24. Tickets are $20.  The Playhouse is fully accessible. Parking is abundant and free. Call the Kanata Theatre box office 613 831 4435. Or you can now buy tickets on-line at www.kanatatheatre.com

Top

Top