'Front Page News' tells Scopes story
A new look at “the world’s most famous court trial” and the community and people who made it happen will come to life July 19-20 as Dayton celebrates the 25th annual Scopes Festival.
“We have a new play that captures the tension of the creation-evolution debate in 1925 as well as the dramatics of the Scopes Trial itself,” festival Chairman Tom Davis said. “‘Front Page News: The Scopes Monkey Trial’ looks at the trial through the eyes of several newspaper reporters as well as the men who hatched the plan to bring the trial to Dayton.”
Playwright Deborah DeGeorge Harbin said she was looking for a new way to tell the story of the high school teacher who was charged with teaching the theory of evolution and violating a new state law. “In addition to the drama of the trial itself, I was drawn in by the way news coverage varied so widely from paper to paper and reporter to reporter. It seems that the meaning of the Scopes Trial truly was – and is – in the eye of the beholder, and I wanted to show that by incorporating many different perspectives on the trial.”
Of course William Jennings Bryan, who assisted the prosecution, and Clarence Darrow, who led the defense, were the headliners in the 1925 trial, but District Attorney General Tom Stewart played a critical role in keeping the legal process on track during the eight-day trial. “At the beginning of my research, I knew very little about Tom Stewart, but he caught my attention from the start. His titan efforts to keep the trial focused on the legal issues alone struck me as a heroic struggle toward an almost impossible goal – and yet, in many ways, he ultimately succeeded.”
While members of the cast already are busy studying their lines, the jury will be chosen from the audience at each performance. One of those jurors will have speaking lines, Davis said.
‘Front Page News’ will be presented in the Scopes Trial courtroom in the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton at 8 p.m. on Friday and 3 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 19 and 20. Tickets are available here.
For more information, call MainStreet Dayton at 423.775.9847.