It is Happening Here…

Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America Presents:

A Staged Reading of “It Can’t Happen Here”

Adapted from the play by Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffitt and based on the Lewis Novel

On the Anniversary of the Inauguration: January 20, 2018

7:00 pm (Doors), 7:30 (Curtain)9:00 pm

Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray St, Portland, ME 04102, USA

A donation of $10-20 is requested at the door.

Sinclair Lewis was the first American writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature and also the first to decline the Pulitzer, which, in 1926, was given “for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners and manhood.” [1]

Best known for his critical treatment of American materialism, sexism, commercialism and capitalism, Lewis, the man, remained true to the democratic socialist ideals that fueled Lewis, the writer. “In America most of us—not readers alone, but even writers—are still afraid of any literature which is not a glorification of everything American, a glorification of our faults as well as our virtues,” Lewis declared in his Nobel acceptance speech in 1930, going on to describe the country as “the most contradictory, the most depressing, the most stirring, of any land in the world today.”[2]

Five years later, and over the course of only four months, Lewis would write the semi-satirical novel, It Can’t Happen Here, about the swindling of the American presidency by a dangerous demagogue, a so-called “man of the people” who rises to power by promising greatness for his militant followers, while vilifying immigrants, non-Christians, the poor, and the free press. Lewis was writing from a place of fear—namely that fascism, which was on the rise in Europe, could take hold in America.

His fears were not unfounded. In 1930, the country was digging itself out of the Great Depression: unemployment was up; manufacturing was down, and people were desperate to follow any law-and-order candidate who promised to restore their prosperity and self-respect. A 1939 pro-Hitler rally in Madison Square garden, attended by tens of thousands of fascist followers—all of them Americans—is a stark reminder of how close we came to the brink.

It Can’t Happen Here became a bestseller, spawning radio, theater, film and television adaptations that have reached millions. Fascism did not sweep across America in a great wave, razing all democratic institutions in its path, as Lewis imagined—but of course that is only how it happens in novels. In real life, fascism takes hold by degrees so small and incremental that we barely notice the creep of authoritarianism until it is too late to turn back the tide. Lewis understood, more than any other writer of his time, that in order to prevent fascism from suffocating the flame of freedom, we must continually remind ourselves that it can happen here.

Cast of Characters:

Doremus Jessep – Herb Adams
Mary Greenhill- Mikayla Damon
Fowler Greenhill – Krys Bigosinski
David Greenhill – Meg Reilly
Lorinda Pike – Kate Sykes
Shad Ledue – Bob Mahue
Francis Tasbrough – Kelly McDaniel
Effingham Swan – Carl Pease
Julian Falck – Kenny Lynx
Henry Veeder – Seth Berner
Mrs. Veeder – Tracy Allen
Clarence Tubbs – Vinney O’Malley
Dan Wilgus – Barney McClelland
Adalaide Tarr Gimmitch/Narrator – Cynthia Handlen
Mr. Dimmick – Meg Reilly
Jim Nickerson – Cynthia Handlen
Walt Trobridge – Zach Ringelstein
Pastor Prang – Jack O’Brien
“Buzz” Windrip – Harlan Baker
Adelaide Tarr Gimmich – Cynthia Handlen
Narrator – Cynthia Handlen
Commentator – Joey Brunelle

 

[1] The Sinclair Lewis Society

[2] John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, 15th edition, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1980), 791 via Wikipedia