It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and John C.…

Presented by University of Minnesota and Elemental Ensemble

Rarig Center Thrust Stage

330 21st Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Free and Open to the Public

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180 minutes

With intermission

Past performances

Monday, October 17 8:00 pm
  • Post-show discussion
  • Free performance
Drama Minnesota premiere

The University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance in conjunction with Elemental Ensemble will present a reading of the Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffitt play, It Can't Happen Here based on the 1936 novel by Sinclair Lewis of the same name. The performance will take place at the Rarig Center on the Thrust Stage on Monday, October 17 at 8:00 (330 21st Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55455) The reading is free and open to the public.

Imagine America ruled by a charismatic bigot elected president on a populist platform. That is what Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis did in his long forgotten play IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE, which uncannily reflects the current the state of American politics. 

Adapted from Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel of the same name, IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE was originally produced as part of the WPA Federal Theater Project's "Living Newspaper" series. This prophetic American play was adapted for the stage by Mr. Lewis and John C. Moffitt, and could easily have been written in 2016. Set in a small town in Vermont, IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE takes place under the rule of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a power-hungry demagogue who wins the presidency portraying himself as a champion of traditional values and promising to restore the country to greatness. Once in power, Windrip incarcerates political opponents and puts a paramilitary force called the Minute Men in charge. He curtails women's and minority rights. He installs a government of "Corpo-men" cronies. He plans for a war with Mexico. Dissidents flee to Canada. The only ones to stand up to his dictatorship are members of an underground movement called the People's Party - among them, a newspaper journalist named Doremus Jessup. We plan to present this play  in a staged reading.  

IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE was presented in a similar staged reading in New York by the Peccadillo Theater Company in March, 2016.  "Sinclair Lewis anticipated the 2016 presidential election by more than eighty years," said Peccadillo Theater Director, Dan Wackerman "Our form of government is more vulnerable than people suppose and this play shows how the loss of our cherished freedoms can happen by the gradual accommodation to the 'new normal' of demagogues likeDonald Trump. This 80-year-old drama really stands the test of time," he further explains. "Quite apart from its remarkably prescient analysis of how a fascist strongman might actually come to power in this country, it's just a good story, well built and suspenseful, " he concludes.

Luverne Seifert Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip
Stephen Cartmill Doremus Jessup
Barbara Reid Lorinda Pike
Kimberly Richardson Mary Fowler Greenhill
Nathan Keepers Francis Tasbrough
Ryan Lear Effingham Swan, Lee Sarason
Brant Miller Shad Ledue
Jason Ballweber Paster Paul Peter Prang
Lisa Channer Scene Narrator
Noah Daniel Savoie Dr. Fowler Greenhill, Clarence Little
Jacob Mierva David Greenhill
Rory Mitchell Henry Veeder, Julian Falck
Hayley Kopp Mrs. Veeder, President's Military Aide, Corpo
Dan Wilgus, Mr. Dimmick
Margurite Chevremont Mrs. Whitcomb, Officer, Corpo
Emma Dalen Pastor Prang's Secretary, Corpo
Isabel Enns Studio Attendant, Corpo
Kezia Germ First Corpo
Kelly Pocian First Guard, Corpo
Katherine Smokowicz Second Guard, Corpo
Tessa Dalhgren Doctor, Corpo
Private, Corpo
Stage Manager, Production Assistant, Second Corpo
William O. Beeman Producer, Director