Ed Asner takes the role of Bryan, not Darrow, in LATW’s drama based on the Scopes transcript. John de Lancie, at right, plays Darrow. Susan Loewenberg chose a radio play about the Scopes trial for L.A. Theatre Works’ 2005 national tour because it’s the one that teachers request most from the company’s catalog of more than 200 recorded plays. The teachers seemed to be saying the evolution/creation fight is an enduring topic in our national life and not just a quirky little philosophical eruption that excuses a quick revival of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial. Indeed, as Ed Asner started off the tour last week as William Jennings Bryan, defender of creation, in Arcata, Calif., a new evolution trial was under way in court in Dover, Pa.
An educational experience 4.6 billion years in the making,” says the clever tagline for WGBH’s big September series Evolution. The way the Boston producers have been preparing for the reaction from creationists, you’d think they expect the controversy surrounding it will last almost that long. “Evolution is two steps away from abortion,” said Anne Zeiser, director of national strategic marketing for WGBH, placing the flash point at which evolution ignites fundamentalist outrage. Recent polls show that 45 percent of Americans say they believe in creationism, and many Christians view Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection as an assault on their faith. Evolution, a seven-part, eight-hour co-production of WGBH’s Nova science unit and billionaire Paul G. Allen’s Clear Blue Sky Productions, will kick off the PBS fall season Sept.