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It Can't Happen Here fall staged reading tour!
Directed by Maureen Hennigan
Aaron Michael Hodge
Joanna Pejouhy Kell
Tickets: Sliding-Scale Donation $5-25
Specific venue info:
Sunday, October 4, 2 pm: Factory Point Town Green, Depot Street near intersection with Main Street (VT Route 7A), Manchester, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets.
Stage and seating areas will be cordoned off and audience will enter through one controlled COVID19 safety check-in entrance. Ushers will support 6-feet of space between parties. Masks are required in the audience area except while eating or drinking. Food/drink may be brought in.
Show is 1 act, approx 80 minutes.
Shows will be canceled due to rain, snow or frigid conditions. Tickets will be refundable or transferable.
Performances are scheduled on weekend afternoons, September 26 – October 25. This will be a staged reading in the style of old-fashioned 1940s radio dramas with standing microphones, allowing for ample distance between actors and audiences.
All performances will follow state guidelines for outdoor public events, including limited-capacity (150-person) seating, with cordoned-off stage and audience areas providing for 6 feet between small groups, and controlled entrance and exits. Performers and crew will be wearing masks except while addressing the audience.
BarnArts first staged this play in June 2018 on a farm in the company’s hometown of Barnard, just down the road from where Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here in 1935.
In 1930 Lewis had been the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In It Can’t Happen Here, the populist buffoon Buzz Windrip unexpectedly defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt for the 1936 Democratic nomination. Windrip wins the election, declares martial law, and begins eliminating his adversaries. The story’s hero is Doremus Jessup, an battle-worn Vermont newspaper editor who decides to take a stand and use the press to fight tyranny, which gets him locked up in a
military prison. Lewis was slyly depicting figures such as Huey Long, Father Charles Coughlin, and “America Firster” Charles Lindbergh, who sought to isolate the U.S. despite worldwide threats to democracy.
Muchcredit for the urgency of It Can’t Happen Here is thanks to Lewis’s wife, journalist Dorothy Thompson, who in the 1930s was viewed by many as America’s most influential woman after Eleanor Roosevelt. Having interviewed Adolf Hitler as he was consolidating power, Thompson was expelled from Germany for exposing the strongman’s totalitarian aims. She found refuge at Twin Farms, the home she shared with Lewis in Barnard, where she continued to warn of impending world war and the plight of European refugees. Her reporting spurred Sinclair Lewis to write It Can’t Happen Here at a frenzied pace in the summer of 1935.
Thompson’s importance is re-explored in Barnard filmmaker Teo Zagar’s new documentary, Without Fear or Favor: Dorothy Thompson’s Warnings to the West, also sponsored by BarnArts and now in post-production (www.withoutfearorfavorfilm.com).