As discussed previously, I will be bringing to life the character of E.K. Hornbeck in Stage Door Productions’ presentation of Inherit the Wind. Hornbeck is a reporter for The Baltimore Herald, a fictional paper. He is sent to cover the trial of Bertram Cates and takes great delight in poking fun at everyone, including himself. Most of his amusement is derived from the town and people of “Heavenly Hillsboro” where he finds their conservative religious viewpoints both absurd and antiquated. Hornbeck speaks in whimsical rhymes and uses metaphors and sarcasm to confuse the townspeople, which further enhances his amusement. This character is largely based upon Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken. Mencken, hailing from Baltimore, is known as the “Sage of Baltimore” and was one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the twentieth century. Mencken did cover the Scopes Trial, the trial that the play is loosely centered around, and did so in a satirical manner, referencing it as “The Monkey Trial.” Mencken wrote for both The Baltimore American and The Baltimore Sun at times during his career. Much like Hornbeck, Mencken is in staunch opposition to Christian Science, Christian radicalism, religious belief, antievolutionism, and the ignorance of the middle class to which he referred to these individuals as “boobs.” Instead, he champions, science, knowledge, and the ideas of evolution. He is credited with coining the term “the Bible Belt.”
I will admit this part has been a blast to fulfill but also a bit challenging because Hornbeck has a similar thought process as my own (of course, being a scientist) but his mannerisms are a complete 180 degree from mine. As one of my dear friends told me, “You are too nice!” Poking fun at individuals, being sarcastic, and sneering at everyone and everything has totally been a transformation for me but I have enjoyed the challenge and am excited for all of you to see a side of me you have likely never seen!
H.L. Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956)