PMA partners with free nationwide radio play of "It Can't Happen Here"

October 9, 2020

On Tuesday, October 13, a radio production of Sinclair Lewis’ novel “It Can’t Happen Here” will broadcast at 5PM PDT/8PM EDT via Berkeley Rep’s YouTube page. Written in 1935 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. In 2016 Berkeley Rep unveiled a new stage adaptation of Lewis’ prescient novel; one week after that production ended, the presidential election roiled our nation. Now, Berkeley Rep reprises that production with the same director and much of the original cast, but this time as a radio play in four episodes, just in time for the 2020 presidential election. The audio drama is being offered free to organizations across the country. The intent for the project is to encourage dialogue and motivate citizens to exercise their civic power and vote.

The Cornell University Department of Performing and Media Arts is honored to join theatres across the nation to help spread the word about this production. Berkeley Rep’s former Artistic Director Tony Taccone, along with screenwriter Bennett S. Cohen, return with the original director, two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson. The trio previously collaborated on “It Can’t Happen Here” when it had its premiere at Berkeley Rep in 2016.

Oscar-nominated actor David Strathairn (‘Good Night, and Good Luck”) will join many of the previous cast members to bring this political drama to life.

A live Q&A session with the creative team will take place following the broadcast.

The full cast for “It Can’t Happen Here,” in alphabetical order, includes:

  • Elijah Alexander (General Edgeways/Bishop Prang/Lee Sarason)
  • Danforth Comins (Philip Jessup)
  • Scott Coopwood (Shad Ledue)
  • William Thomas Hodgson (Dr. Fowler Greenhill)
  • Anna Ishida (Mary Jessup Greenhill)
  • David Kelly (Buzz Windrip)
  • Sharon Lockwood (Emma Jessup/Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch)
  • Eddie Lopez (David Greenhill/Mr. Dimick)
  • Alex Lydon (Julian Falck)
  • Tom Nelis (Buck Titus)
  • Greta Oglesby (Lorinda Pike)
  • Charles Shaw Robinson (Frank Tasbrough/Effingham Swan)
  • Gerardo Rodriguez (Karl Pascal)
  • Carolina Sanchez (Sissy Jessup)
  • Mark Kenneth Smaltz (R.C. Crowley/John Pollikop)
  • David Strathairn (Doremus Jessup)

Citizens, campaigners, soldiers, workers, radio voices, prisoners, and many others all played by members of the company and Sound Designer Paul James Prendergast.

Broadcast partners as of October 2, 2020

16th Street Theater, IL

ACT—A Contemporary Theatre, WA

Adams State University Theatre, CO

Alley Theatre, TX

American Conservatory Theater, CA

American Stage Theatre Company, FL

Arden Theatre Company, PA

Arena Stage, CA

Aurora Theatre Company, CA

Bag&Baggage Productions, OR

Bishop Arts Theatre Center, TX

Brüka Theatre Of The Sierra, NV

Capital Repertory Theatre, NY

Capital Stage Company, CA

Center Theatre Group, CA

Central Works, CA

Childsplay, AZ

Cinnabar Theater, CA

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department, IL

Contra Costa Civic Theatre, CA

Cornell University Department of Performing and Media Arts, NY

Cottage Theatre, OR

Custom Made Theatre Co., CA

Edge Effect Theater, WI

Episcopal High School, VA

Everyman Theatre, MD

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College, MI

Foothill Theatre Arts, CA

Goodman Theatre, IL

Guthrie Theater, MN

Hammer Theatre Center at San Jose State University, CA

Howard University Department of Theatre Arts, DC

Huntington Theatre Company, MA

Indiana Repertory Theatre, IN

International City Theatre, CA

Island Shakespeare Festival, WA

Jewel Theatre Company, CA

Juneteenth Theatre Justice Project, CA

Kent State University at Stark, OH

La Jolla Playhouse, CA

Lisbon Public Library, IA

Main Street Theater, TX

Marble Artstown Association, NY

Marin Shakespeare Company, CA

Marin Theatre Company, CA

Merced County Arts Council, CA

Merced Shakespearefest, CA

Michigan State University Department of Theatre, MI

Minority Voices Theatre, OR

New Conservatory Theatre Center, CA

The New School College of Performing Arts, NY

Northlight Theatre, IL

Notre Dame Film, Television, and Theatre, IN

The Oasis Theatre Company, NM

Oregon Contemporary Theatre, OR

Ozark Living Newspaper Theatre Company, AR

People’s Light, PA

Philadelphia Theatre Company, PA

Phoenix Creative Collective, AZ

Pittsburgh Public Theater, PA

Project Big Top, CA

Red Earth Theatre, AZ

Remote Theater, CA

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, IL

Rogue Theater Company, OR

Roundabout Theatre Company, NY

Rutgers University–Newark, NJ

Saint Cloud State University, MN

Santa Clara University, CA

Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, CA

Seattle Repertory Theatre, WA

Shotgun Players, CA

South Coast Repertory, CA

The State Theatre, DC

Stories on Stage, CO

Syracuse Stage, NY

Texas A&M University–Commerce, TX

Theatreworks Colorado Springs, CO

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, CA

Trilogy Theatre Group, CA

UC Merced, CA

UC Santa Barbara, Department of Theater and Dance, CA

University of Oklahoma, Helmerich School of Drama, OK

USC School of Dramatic Arts, CA

Very Little Theatre, OR

The Village Repertory Co., SC

Water Street Barn, MA

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, MA

We Players, CA

Z Space, CA

It Can't Happen Here on red and white striped background