On Monday, October 24, the USC School of Dramatic Arts held a free public reading of the new stage adaptation of It Can’t Happen Here, based on the 1935 novel written by Sinclair Lewis. In 1936, the novel was adapted into a play and theatres across the country opened productions on the same night. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of those productions, the School joined with hundreds of regional theatres, universities, and communities across the country to read a new adaptation by Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director Tony Taccone and screenwriter Bennett S. Cohen.
Written during the rise of fascism in Europe, Lewis’ darkly satirical It Can’t Happen Here follows the ascent of a demagogue who becomes president of the United States by promising to return the country to greatness. Witnessing the new president’s authoritarian tyranny from the sidelines is a liberal, middle-class newspaper editor from Vermont who is caught in the chaos of social upheaval.
Directed by USC School of Dramatic Arts faculty member Laura Flanagan, the event featured many of the School’s faculty members (in alphabetical order) Tony Abatemarco, Rob Adler, Gregg T. Daniel, Anita Dashiell-Sparks, John DeMita, Kathleen Dunn-Muzingo, Kirstin Eggers, Vicki Lewis, Randle Mell, Jeremiah O’Brian, Andy Robinson and Zachary Steel; and three students Calahan Skogman (MFA first year), Anisha Jagannathan (Senior, BA) and Noah Collins (Sophomore, BFA).
The new adaptation of Lewis’s classic continues its world premiere run at Berkeley Rep through November 6, 2016.