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Monday
Oct032011

It Can't Happen Here!

It Can't Happen Here!

Brüka Theatre presents a play reading at the top of the 2011-2012 season on Monday night, October 24, 2011 at 7 PM.  Brüka joins theatres across the USA to read “It Can’t Happen Here,” celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Federal Theatre Project and its historical production of Sinclair Lewis' and John C. Moffitt's powerful drama. Readings in theaters, art centers and living rooms across the country will follow the spirit of the original production, which opened in 22 theaters in 18 US cities on October 27, 1936 and was seen by more than 316,000 people.

The play envisions a fictional America where a powerful senator becomes a dictator, abolishing labor unions, free speech, and a free press. His sinister allies, known only as “the Corpos,” recruit unemployed and dissatisfied young people and intimidate anyone who opposes their agenda.

Mary Bennett, Brüka’s Producing Artistic Director directs the reading with well-know local actors and community members in the cast of 15.
 
The 2011 national reading project was initiated by Darryl Henriques, formerly of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and is co-sponsored by the SFMT and Dell'Arte International. Henriques hopes to call attention to an important piece of American history and to alert today’s audiences to The Federal Theater Project, which employed theater workers, circus performers, cabaret and vaudeville acts a part of the WPA. Those who've seen Tim Robbins' 1999 movie "The Cradle Will Rock" were introduced to that incredible time when Uncle Sam became the greatest producer of plays in the United States and there was for a fleeting moment a National Theater administered by the brilliant and indefatigable Hallie Flanagan.
Flanagan, director of the Federal Theatre Project, said:
"We want to do 'It Can't Happen Here' because it is a play by one of our most distinguished American writers. We want to do it because it is about American life today, based on a passionate belief in American democracy. The play says that when dictatorship comes to threaten such a democracy...it comes in an apparently harmless guise, with parades and promises; but that when such dictatorship arrives, the promises are not kept and the parade grounds become encampments.
We want to do 'It Can't Happen Here' because, like Doremus Jessup [one of the characters] and his creator, Sinclair Lewis, we, as American citizens and as workers in a theatre sponsored by the government of the United States, should like to do what we can to keep alive the “free, inquiring, critical spirit” which is the center and core of a democracy."

The Monday night reading allows more theatres to organize a reading, since Mondays are dark nights in most theatres. There will be readings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Hollywood, New York, Louisville, Cleveland, Syracuse, Kansas City, Reno, and many other cities.
“No one agreed on... the play,” Hallie Flanagan told an audience some months later, “but everyone had to see it. It was called good, bad, savage, mild, American, un-American, Fascist, communist, too far left, too far right, a work of genius, a work of the devil.” (From Furious Improvisation by Susan Quinn.)

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