To Get You Started...
Bert's the kind of guy your father warned you about—a rebel. But Rachel, a preacher's daughter, is kind of in love with her friend, Bert, anyway. She goes to visit him in jail. He seems like a nice enough guy, and he's not a dangerous criminal, after all.
Unless you count threatening an entire belief system as dangerous. In that case, he's almost a terrorist. See, his crime is teaching evolution in a public school, which is against the law. Rachel's father, Reverend Jeremiah Brown, is one of Bert's biggest opponents, and most of the townspeople follow the Reverend's lead.
Two important lawyers roll into town for Bert's high-profile trial. For the prosecution, there's Matthew Harrison Brady, a three-time presidential candidate (no-time winner)—we're thinking a George Clooney type. For the defense, there's Henry Drummond, who used to be friends with Brady and is a famous agnostic—we're thinking Matthew McConaughey, yes?
(- that's from Shmoop)
Inherit the Wind is a play dramatizing the Hillsboro Monkey Trial, in a small American town called Hillsboro, state unnamed, in the 1950s. This trial is based on some historical facts of the Scopes Monkey Trial, which occurred in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, and which brought William Jennings Bryant, Clarence Darrow, and H. L. Mencken—a famous politician, lawyer, and reporter, respectively—to a small town to determine whether a man ought to go to jail for teaching evolution in a science class, in violation of state law.