NEW BEDFORD — Starting tonight (Thursday, Dec. 6), the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School auditorium transforms into a courtroom for the school drama club’s production of Inherit the Wind, directed by Marianne Morrissey and Gerald A. Morrissey, Jr.

Inherit the Wind tells the story of one of the greatest courtroom dramas of twentieth century America. While the Scopes Monkey Trial provided the basis for the play, the authors of the drama used creative license and changed the factual elements to communicate the ideas and concepts of the original trial. Written nearly 30 years after the actual trial, the play provides a vehicle for demonstrating the conflicts between fundamentalisms and religious traditionalism on the one hand, and evolution and the freedom of thought on the other, the two co-directors said in a statement.

“The central issues are as pertinent now as they were in the 1920’s and the 1950’s, and they will continue to create conflicts in societies which value the freedom of ideas, religion, science and politics. This play provides entertainment as a great courtroom drama, while the issues at stake remain relevant and troubling.”

A sampling of the actors’ remarks about getting into their roles reveals the complex nature of the characters and also the challenges that come with capturing it in many cases.

Ryan McCarthy said his character, Bertram T. Cates — the school teacher who is on trial — is “full of emotions, wrestling with the beliefs of his lover and the law.”

“The balance of softness and love against the anger and strife caused by the situation was a struggle to balance,” he said. “But I believe I've overcome this and was able to truly understand what the authors of this drama intended for Cates' emotions, so I'm overjoyed to be able to present these emotions to an audience.”

Mary-Kate DaCosta, describes her character, Cates’ lover, Rachel Brown, as a representation of “people who want to think differently, but are scared to do so.”

“She is so conflicted between her father, Reverend Jeremiah Brown, and her fiancé, Bert Cates, because they think in two completely different ways,” she said.

Jhona Coombs, who will play E.K. Hornbeck, describes his character as “the cynical journalist issued by the Baltimore Herald to cover the Cates trail,” and said his role has forced him outside his comfort zone as an actor. “One of the hardest things in the process was learning how to be sarcastic so the audience perceived it as sarcastic and not just rude or odd-sounding,” Coombs said.

Laura Pereira, who will play the role of the Judge, said her focus in preparing for the play has been not only on what to say, but how to say it. “In preparing for the show, I had challenges in getting all my lines memorized and finding the right tone to say my lines in,” she said.

Inherit the Wind starts Dec. 6, 7, and 8 at 7:00 p.m., and a matinee on Dec. 9 at 2:00 p.m. All shows are at Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School, 1121 Ashley Blvd, New Bedford, in the auditorium.

Tickets are $12 each for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for students. For Information Call 508-998-3321, ext. 424.