Our 12 Greatest Legal Plays: #3 Inherit the Wind
#3 Inherit the Wind
Based on the celebrated 1925 “monkey trial” of Tennessee teacher John T. Scopes, who was arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution, Inherit the Wind outlines the cultural clash between scientific thought and fundamentalist religion.
The Scopes trial was made famous by newspaperman H.L. Mencken as a dramatic confrontation between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, two former friends. Its dramatization was the collaboration of writers Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
The play was first performed in Dallas in 1955, with Paul Muni and Ed Begley in the lead roles, directed by Margo Jones. Within months it was garnering rave reviews on Broadway, which saw it as a commentary on McCarthy-era challenges to the freedoms of thought.
NOTE: The play takes its title from the Book of Proverbs: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind; and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.”