By Dan Pool
Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to catch the Tater Patch Players’ production of Inherit the Wind. There are a lot of things right about this play for Jasper audiences. It’s thought–provoking material pertaining to the rural South presented very well by a local cast.
The problem is that the theater was only partially-full; a solid crowd, but this much work deserved more filled seats. It’s a shame that with the limited opportunities for the arts here, it was not a sell-out every night of the run. It does continue this weekend, so you still have a chance to catch it.
For those who are averse to arts/culture, have no worries, the Tater Patch production of Inherit the Wind is something to ponder but not snobbish; casual attire is fine to wear and they sell beer at the theater – in other words you’ll have a good time.
There is never a shortage of people talking about supporting community businesses or proclaiming how they shop local. We will add to that list: Be entertained locally and some of those people need to put their time and money behind their Facebook posts and go see a local show.
If anyone believes that the arts will march on without their support, recall the Sharptop Arts Center closed after many years due to lack of public interest.
Having a theater troupe in town makes the whole community look better and gives opportunities for both adults and kids to have something to do.
In this case, it should be easy to support the hometown thespians as their Inherit the Wind is a production that would draw applause anywhere. It is a top-notch play put on by local talent.
If you have ever thought about going to see the Tater Patch Players and haven’t, this is a perfect one to start with due to the subject which is tailored for a thinking, small town crowd.
For those not familiar with Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee, it is loosely based on the, Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, TN in 1925, concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Or as the play refers it in some scenes, “Evil-ution.”
Tater Patch Director Nan Nawrocki said she did not pick it to be controversial and it is really not. The play is clearly sympathetic to the teacher who decided to open the book on evolution to his students, but not so one-sided that anti-evolutionists would run screaming from the theater.
Rather than being controversial, the play delves into familiar territory for anyone living in any small southern town. It provides a lot to think about on community dynamics, as well the weightier issues of religion, evolution and freedom of speech.
Among some of the great one-liners in the play:
• If the Lord wishes a sponge to think, it thinks.
• Show me a shouter and I’ll show you an also-ran. A might-have been. An almost was.
• What if a lesser human being has the audacity to think that God might whisper to him?... Must men go to prison because they are at odds with the self-appointed prophet?
• Sometimes it seems to me I ride like fury, just to end up back where I started. Might as well be on a merry-go-round, or a rocking horse.
• The ideas have to come out – like children. Some of ‘em healthy as a bean plant, some sickly. I think the sickly ideas die mostly don’t you?
• Then, why did God plague us with the power to think?
This is the last weekend to see Inherit the Wind at the local theater. If you want an evening out that leaves you something to think about and also an opportunity to support a great local institution, go see it. Remaining performances are May 19th and 20th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 21st at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at taterpatchplayers.org.