Connecticut Heritage Productions will present It Can’t Happen Here at Russell Library on October 29, at 1:00pm as part of a nationwide reading.In 1936, Sinclair Lewis adapted his novel into a play under the auspices of the Federal Theatre Project, and theatres across the country opened productions on the same night. The novel describes the rise of Berzelius 'Buzz' Windrip, a U.S. Senator who is elected to the presidency after promising drastic economic and social reforms.
On October 27, 1936, 'It Can't Happen Here' opened in 22 theaters in 18 cities across the nation. The play, which was adapted by Sinclair Lewis from his best-selling novel of the same name, eventually ran for a total of 260 weeks and was seen by more than 316,000 people.
Hallie Flanagan, director of the Federal Theatre Project - a program of the WPA, and the only National Theatre the U.S. has ever had - said this about the play:
'We want to do 'It Can't Happen Here' because it is about American life today, based on a passionate belief in American democracy. The play says that when dictatorship comes to threaten such a democracy, it comes in an apparently harmless guise, with parades and promises; but that when such dictatorship arrives, the promises are not kept and the parade grounds become encampments.'
On the 80th anniversary of the first theatrical adaptation of Lewis’s novel, and in cooperation with the Sinclair Lewis Estate, Berkeley Rep is organizing a nationwide reading of a new adaptation of the novel during the week of October 24-29. Theatres, universities, and libraries across the United States have been invited to organize free public readings of the new adaptation by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen.
“Lewis’ novel reads like it was ripped out of today’s headlines,” says CHP’s Artistic Director Teresa Langston. “Whether he’s describing Buzz Windrip, the demagogue who wins the presidency based on the promise of making our country great again, or Doremus Jessup, a liberal newspaper editor who simply waits too long to take Windrip seriously, Lewis’ understanding of our political system was precise and far reaching.”This nationwide reading is made possible thanks to the generous support of Barbara and Rodgin Cohen and Orin Kramer, with the cooperation of the Sinclair Lewis Estate.
All events at Russell Library are free.