A community theater production of “Inherit the Wind” was canceled last month after creationists complained.
Final auditions had been scheduled for Aug. 30 on the campus of Martin Luther College, in New Ulm, Minnesota, for the play, which dramatizes a fictional version of the landmark Scopes “Monkey Trial,” reported The (New Ulm) Journal.
The New Ulm Actors Community Theater was not planning to perform the play at the Lutheran college but has previously used the campus for auditions, rehearsals and performances.
Several MLC professors objected to the play’s subject matter, which dramatizes the debate over evolution and creationism, after seeing posters advertising the audition.
The college is run by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which teaches that the Bible’s Book of Genesis is a literal and factual account of creation.
A college spokesman said he feels the play is unfairly critical of creationism and was incompatible with the college of ministry’s teachings.
The 1955 play, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, depicts the trial of John Scopes, who was convicted of violating a Tennessee law against teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in a public school.
Scopes’ conviction, which resulted in a $100 fine, was later overturned on a technicality.
The audition was rescheduled at another location, but the MLC student who was directing the play resigned the following week, citing numerous emails and letters objecting to his involvement from professors and local synod members.
The student said he feared additional consequences from MLC administrators if he did not resign, although he said he was disappointed and believed his creative freedom had been stifled.
Six cast members also dropped out after consulting with their pastors or synod officials, and the community theater board postponed the play indefinitely Sept. 16.
The community theater still hopes to perform the play, which had originally been scheduled to open Oct. 4, but no plans have been finalized.