BELFAST — A limited engagement run of the one man show “Darrow,” starring John Burstein, will be performed at the Basil Burwell Community Theater, 17 Court St., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Belfast Maskers, Meals On Wheels, Restorative Justice and Habitat for Humanity. The play by David Rintels portrays famous attorney Clarence Darrow, social activist and champion of underdogs, as he reminisces about his many sensational and often controversial trials. His cases included the Scopes “Monkey” trial (inspiring the movie “Inherit the Wind,” starring Spencer Tracy) and the murder trial of Leopold and Loeb.

Burstein’s work as an actor, playwright and producer has spanned over 40 years. It includes the creation of the costumed character Slim Goodbody who appeared on Captain Kangaroo, PBS, Nickelodeon and Discovery. Burstein has worked with Greenpeace on an environmental special that was co-produced with several nations around the world, and with HBO. Locally, Burstein wrote, produced and directed two recent musicals: “Bingo Queen” and “The Night Kitchen.” He portrayed Prospero in Camden Shakespeare Festival’s “The Tempest” and Scrooge in John Bielenberg’s adaptation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Regarding “Darrow,” Burstein said, “As you experience the play about a lawyer who spoke a century ago ‘for the poor, the weak, and the weary,’ I believe you will be faced with an uncomfortable truth. Change the names, adjust a few of the details, and you could be reading about these cases in your morning paper. Violence, religious intolerance, wage inequality, racial prejudice — however, I believe as Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,’ and that the real hope lies in the millions of small acts of kindness and love that happen every day.”

Darrow took unpopular cases that other lawyers would not touch. He represented labor movement clients charged with violence, treason and conspiracy — to give voice to “the weak, the suffering, and the poor” by defending their First Amendment rights to free speech, to a free press, and to petition the government. Among those he defended were mentally ill men accused of heinous crimes, black men charged with raping white women, and communists and anarchists snared in the reactionary fervor of the Red Scare. He defended Frank Lloyd Wright when federal prosecutors hounded the architect for violating the Mann Act, which made it a crime to transport women across state lines for “immoral purposes.” He saved the killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb from the gallows. Most famously, he scored a triumph for academic freedom after John Scopes was accused of violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of  evolution.

In 1925, after the famous trial and at the height of his fame, Darrow could have commanded titanic fees on Wall Street but he declined to cash in. He went, instead, to Detroit to represent the family of Doctor Ossian Sweet — African-Americans who had fired into a racist mob that attacked their new home in a white neighborhood. Darrow defended the Sweets, in two grueling trials that spanned seven months, for a token fee raised by the NAACP. He won the case, establishing a principle that black Americans had a right to self-defense. Sweet “…bought that home just as you buy yours, because he wanted a home to live in, to take his wife and to raise a family,” Darrow told the all-white jury. “No man lived a better life or died a better death than fighting for his home and his children.” At the end of his speech, James Weldon Johnson, the NAACP’s leader, embraced the aged lawyer and wept with him there in the courtroom.

“Darrow was a champion of personal liberty, defender of the underdog, foe of capital punishment and crusader for intellectual freedom,” added Burstein. “At a time when class conflict was so intense it bordered on class warfare, a time of Jim Crow and of unprecedented xenophobia, Darrow fought his battles not just for his clients, but also for the hearts and minds of the American people.”

General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased at or in the lobby of the theater one hour before each performance.