Dan Buck, associate professor of theatre at Lee University, will direct this year’s Scopes Trial Play in Rhea County’s annual Scopes Festival. The play, “The Scopes Trial: Monkey in the Middle,” written by Dayton playwright Gale Johnson, will be performed four times between Friday, July 15, and Sunday, July 17.
“Monkey in the Middle” is a reenactment of the famous 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton. The trial took place July 10-July 21 when Dayton teacher John Scopes was accused of defying the Butler Act, which outlawed the teaching of evolution in a Tennessee public classroom. The trial became the focus of national attention when attorneys William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow leant their considerable fame and oratory skills to the Prosecution and Defense.
The play will be performed in the Historic Rhea County Courthouse where the actual trial took place. It features dialogue from the trial transcript and actors portraying Bryan, Darrow, District Attorney Tom Stewart, arguing the still contentious topic of what gets taught in public schools and who should decide. The Scopes Trial play has been performed annually since its inception in the late 1980s.
“Directing this play has been thrilling, because it’s haunted in all the best ways,” said Mr. Buck. “Not only does it take place in the actual courtroom of the 1925 trial, but I even have three cast members who are relatives of men from the trial. Directing it has been a joy not only to help tell the story once again, but because I have learned so much in the process.”
Mr. Buck, a fan of history, stories, and theater, joined the Lee Theatre faculty in 2010. He directs roughly half of the theatre program’s productions and teaches classes in directing, acting, theatre appreciation, and history.
Mr. Buck has directed, acted in, or written over 70 productions. His production company, Tiger Leap Productions, is dedicated to “inciting joy and wonder” through podcasts, live productions, and events. Live productions include Buck’s original one-man show “The Odd Fellow” in Cleveland and a production of “Red” by John Logan in Chattanooga. Tiger Leap produces four podcasts including an offbeat history podcast called “CURIO w/ Dan Buck.”
For more information on the Scopes Trial Play or to purchase tickets, visit https://rheaheritage.com/scopes-trial-play/.