Scopes Trial’s 75th Anniversary and Today’s Evolution Dispute Spark Theatre and Debate in Lawrence, KS


Contact: Nathan Richter or Tracy Duckett at PFAW Foundation

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Ed Asner and James Cromwell Square Off as Bryan and Darrow in Dramatic Presentation based on Scopes Courtroom Transcripts

The University of Kansas’ Lied Center will be the site on Wednesday, July 12, of the world premiere of a new theatrical work recreating from the original historical texts one of the most dramatic and most often refought battles of the last century: the Scopes “Monkey Trial.”

The 7:00 p.m. event, entitled “ORIGINS: Exploring the Evolution-Creationism Dispute through Drama and Debate,” will replay the words of the trial’s famous antagonists, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, along with those of other participants in the historic trial. Also featured in the work are excerpts from reports filed from the scene by the brilliant and controversial journalist and commentator, H.L. Mencken.

“The long-running dispute over evolution and creationism takes on special importance in a world that is being transformed by today’s scientific and technological revolution,” said Ralph G. Neas, PFAWF’s president. “How we resolve this dispute is critically important if we are serious about delivering the very best science education to our children.”

The event is, as the title suggests, a two-part presentation. The first part is a new theatrical work based on the actual court transcripts of the Scopes Trial and the insightful and sometimes acerbic dispatches and commentaries written by renowned journalist H.L. Mencken, who covered the trial for the Baltimore Sun. The courtroom duel between prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan and counsel for the defense Clarence Darrow will be refought by actors Edward Asner (Lou Grant, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), as Bryan, and James Cromwell (Babe, L.A. Confidential) as Darrow. Mencken’s commentary will be delivered by John Rothman (The Impossible H.L. Mencken), while the judge presiding over the courtroom will be played by Dakin Matthews (guest appearances include The West Wing, L.A. Law, and Murder, She Wrote). Rounding out the defense will be Harold Gould (Patch Adams, Stuart Little, The Sting). Shirley Knight (As Good as it Gets, The Wedding) will narrate. The production is being produced by Susan Lowenberg of LA Theatre Works and directed by Richard Masur (One Day at a Time, Forget Paris and former president of the Screen Actors Guild).

The second half of the program fast-forwards from the history retold in the first half to the present as a panel of national and Kansas experts discuss, debate, and dispute over the evolution-creationism controversy as it is now playing out in Kansas and elsewhere around the nation. Panelists will include Eugenie C. Scott, president of the National Center for Science Education; Professor Leonard Krishtalka, director of the University of Kansas’ Natural History museum; Professor Edward J. Larson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Scopes Trial, Summer for the Gods; Tom Willis, director of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America; and John H. Calvert, the managing director of the Intelligent Design Network. The discussion will be moderated by Michael Davis, a law professor and former dean of the University of Kansas School of Law.

Tickets for the event are available through the Lied Center box office, 785-864-2787 or through Ticketmaster by phone or on the web at for $20 for reserved seating, $15 for students and seniors.

People For the American Way Foundation is a 300,000-member national nonprofit organization that defends constitutional and civil rights and promotes the democratic values of citizen participation, freedom of expression and respect for diversity.

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For more information, please follow the links below:

Public Wants Evolution, Not Creationism, in Science Class, New National Poll Shows

Read the Creationism Resource Page

Download the report, “Evolution and Creationism In Public Education: An In-depth Reading Of Public Opinion” (.pdf)

Read the One-Page Summary Chart from Creationism Poll, “Segmenting the Public: Teaching About the Origins of Mankind” (.pdf)

Read the One-Page Summary Chart from Creationism Poll, “Question: Agree or disagree: A person can believe in Evolution and still believe God created humans and guided their development?” (.pdf)

Download the report, “Sabotaging Science: Creationist Strategy in the 1990s”(.pdf)