Will Act for Change presents ‘It Can’t Happen Here’

ALAMOSA — Adams State University Theatre’s Will Act for Change is presenting a reading of the new stage adaptation of ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ based on the 1935 novel written by Sinclair Lewis. The free performance will be Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Xperimental Theatre.

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, attacking the press, and playing to the fears of everyday Americans. Witnessing the new president’s authoritarian tyranny from the sidelines is a newspaper editor from Vermont who is caught up in the chaos of social upheaval.

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, regional theatres, universities, and communities across the country are presenting staged readings of the new adaptation by Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director Tony Taccone and screenwriter Bennett S. Cohen.

“While based on a work written decades ago, it is a thrilling story that feels extremely relevant,” says Dr. John Taylor, professor of theatre. “To me, it is a cautionary tale about the need for everyday citizens, including a free press, to be fully engaged in the daily life of our democracy. In the 1930s, its ominously ironic title was a warning to Americans about the threat of fascism and its potential to take hold even in a democratic United States. It is a warning that remains timeless.”

Will Act for Change is a student acting company dedicated to using theatre to create social change. Its work is part of the Theatre and Social Change course taught by Dr. John Taylor, professor of Theatre, at Adams State University.

A Nationwide Reading is made possible thanks to the generous support of Barbara and Rodgin Cohen and Orin Kramer and is presented in cooperation with the Sinclair Lewis Estate. It is the sixth national theatre project that the Adams State Theatre Department has participated in since 2006. It is also presented in conjunction with the department’s Main Stage production of Good Kids, which runs through May 7.

The staged reading is free to the public, with no tickets needed. Doors will open at 7 p.m.