It Can't Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here

adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen

based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis

directed by Lisa Peterson

Originally produced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley, CA

2016 - 17 Season

About the Premiere Production:

Synopsis: Written in 1935 during the rise of fascism in Europe, Sinclair Lewis’ 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. Sound familiar? Called “a message to thinking Americans” upon its publication, this eerily prescient book receives a new adaptation just in time for election season.

Artistic Statement: In the 49 year history of Berkeley Rep, I cannot think of a more relevant play than It Can’t Happen Here. Written in 1935 by Sinclair Lewis, the novel imagines the rise of a right-wing populist, his election to the presidency, and the country’s subsequent descent into fascism. The campaign and nomination of Donald Trump has brought these same issues to the forefront of our consciousness. As we steamroll towards election day, the stakes only get higher. Our entire company could not feel more engaged than we do at this moment as we work on this play. – Tony Taccone, Artistic Director

Grant Statement: The Edgerton Grant has been critical to the to the realization of this project. The funds allowed us to do two things: to conduct a one week workshop with the entire creative team focused on the text; and to add a week of rehearsal before opening the play in September. We desperately needed this extra time, as we only started writing our adaptation in late March. The grant propelled us forward, gave us the resources and the time to shape our ideas, and the confidence to create a play that has the potential to make a difference.

Cast: Scott Coopwood, Deidrie Henry, William Hodgson, Anna Ishida, David Kelly, Sharon Lockwood, Alexander Lydon, Gabriel Montoya, Tom Nelis, Charlie Shaw Robinson, Gerardo Rodriguez, Will Rogers, Carolina Sanchez, and Mark Kenneth Smaltz.


Set Designer: Rachel Hauck

Lighting Designer: Alex Nichols

Costume Designer: Meg Neville

Sound Designer: Paul James Prendergast


Additional Funders Supporting It Can't Happen Here: The Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Philanthropic Fund, The Bernard Osher Foundation, and the Mosse Artistic Development Fund.