World Famous Scopes Trial Play

Back for 2021!

How It Started

How It Started is a new telling of the Scopes Trial, written for 2021’s Festival.

“Grandpa” brings his son and grandson to the Rhea County courthouse to tell the story of the Trial and help them catch his love of history. The story comes alive as William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow and Judge Raulston appear to give voice to words that were spoken during “The World’s Most Famous Court Trial” in 1925, in the courtroom where the case was heard.

This one-act play by Cara J. Clark, a graduate of Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn., weaves portions of the trial transcript, historical records, and stories from the trial into an entertaining tale that helps us understand that history is not just about what happened “then,” but is part of our “now” as well.

Ms. Clark is excited to be making her debut as a playwright with How It Started. She was a semi-finalist in the 2019 International Screencraft Family Screenplay competition, with her original screenplay Behind the Curtain. She is a graduate of Milligan College in Elizabethton, TN.

Funding by City of Dayton and the Tennessee Arts Commission, and support from Rhea County

Play Dates for 2021 

Saturday, July 17: 1:00 pm
Saturday, July 17: 4:30 pm
Sunday, July 18: 2:30 pm

​Presented by the Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation

Front Page News on DVD

See it now!

The Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation (RHPF) is proud to announce the release of FRONT PAGE NEWS on DVD, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced cancellation of the annual festival.

This DVD, produced in a joint venture by the RHPF and the Cumberland County Playhouse, was filmed by Public Television station WCTE of Cookeville, TN, and aired originally on that station.

FRONT PAGE NEWS, is an original script by Deborah DeGeorge Harbin and adapted with music by Jim Crabtree. New and adapted lyrics were developed by Bobby Taylor and Jim Crabtree, with selected new songs and music by Bobby Taylor. Piano/vocal arrangements are by Ann Crabtree, with guitar arrangements by Bobby Taylor.

FRONT PAGE NEWS is a dramatization of the 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial, which pitted three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, a leading spokesman for evangelical Christianity, against Clarence Darrow, arguably the premiere defense attorney – and outspoken agnostic — in the case of a teacher charged with violating Tennessee’s new anti-evolution law.

Beginning with the plan to test the new law, the story moves through efforts to recruit the teacher – John T. Scopes – through the entrance of Bryan and Darrow into the case, and acknowledges the worldwide interest in the case. With dialogue taken from the trial transcript and other historical records, viewers will get a glimpse of the case and the media circus which surrounded it.

DVDs of FRONT PAGE NEWS are available from the RHPF for $20. Email or call our office at 423-680-9896 to place your order and arrange delivery options. Arrangements can be made to have your order delivered in person at a location in Dayton or your order can be mailed. Please add $3.00 shipping and handling if your order is being mailed. Payment may be made by check, cash or credit card. For credit card purchases call our office.

PO Box 1204
​ Dayton, TN 37321

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