Sallie Bieterman and Kira Compton both independently read It Can't Happen Here, the SInclair Lewis play from 1936, and decided that in the light of our currently political climate, it had to be produced at Emerson College. Upon discovering their shared goal, they teamed up to co-produce Emerson's February staged reading of It Can't Happen Here.
After reaching out to Sarah McArthur at Berkeley Rep, they secured the script used by that company in their recent full-fledged production of the vital work, which details the rise of a totalitarian dictatorship in the United States, and the response and resistance of common citizens who begin to feel the water they're in start to boil. Adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennet S. Cohen, the script is especially designed for staged readings, as the SInclair Lewis Estate made the work available without royalty in order to raise awareness and spread the message of Lewis's work: it's not just the big, bad villains who are responsible for conditions and atrocities... it's the ordinary citizens, the everyday people, who let it happen or shut it down.
"Don't let it happen here!" cried the lobby display. The programs for this staged reading encouraged audience members to "join us after the show and fill out a postcard to your representative." The co-producers then looked up the names and addresses of the writers' Congresspeople, then stamped and mailed the postcards out. Kira and Sallie hope the simplicity and increased accessibility of contacting their representatives in Washington served as an ice-breaker for audience not accustomed to contacting their representatives and being politically active as private citizen, and directly spurred them to refuse to repeat the mistakes of the complacent citizens in Sinclair Lewis's work.
The programs also offered, if the audience members found the events of the play "alarmingly familiar", a list of organizations they might consider donating time or money to, including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
Director & Co-Producer Kira Compton and Co-Producer Sallie Bieterman believe in the power of political theatre and its inherent ability to incite action. This work, written 80 years ago yet eerily resonant now, reminds audiences that sitting back and watching events unfold isn't enough- involvement and conviction are the path to a better future.
Again, special thanks Sarah McArthur at Berkeley Rep and the Sinclair Lewis Estate.
Doremus Jessup..... Dante Flores
Lorinda Pike..... ........Maggie O'Neill
Adelaide Gimmich/Emma Jessup/Farmer..... Bre Mack
Swan/Tasbrough..... Simon Kiser
Pollikop/Crowley/Trowbridge... Ryan O'Rourke
Buzz WIndrip/Buck... Riley HIllyer
Shad LeDue/Prang.... Robbie Flanagan
Mary Jessup Greenhill/Jaime Johnson... Emma Meyerson
Dr. Fowler Greenhill/Dimick.... Andrew Sianez-De La O
Philip Jessup.... Conor Reinold
Julian Flack... Jake Broom
Karl(a) Pascal..... Katie Conway
Sissy Jessup..... Alejandra Ruiz
Narrator/Stage Directions........ Sallie Bieterman
Co-Producer/Director...... Kira Compton
Co-Producer....... Sallie Bieterman