What would happen if the United States elected the wrong president in 1936 and the country descended into fascism?The Humanity Theatre Project will explore that very question as it launches its first season with a staged reading of It Can’t Happen Here (Part 1) adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen from the novel by Sinclair Lewis.
Employing the arts as a catalyst, the Humanity Theatre Project aims to celebrate differences, celebrate similarities, and celebrate our shared humanity while creating discussions about and raising awareness of empathy in Nashville and across the country.
Based on the 1930s dystopian of the same name, It Can’t Happen Here presents a cautionary, semi-satirical look at the fragility of democracy. Adapted for the stage by Berkeley Rep in 2016, this new version follows the ascent of Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip (loosely based on Huey P. Long), a demagogue who easily wins the 1936 presidential election by promising to return the country to greatness. The rise of Windrip is watched disapprovingly by Doremus Jessup, the editor of the Fort Beulah Daily Informer. As Windrip comes down on the press, Jessup winds up in the crosshairs while others reassure themselves that fascism cannot “happen here.”
New Founding Artistic Director Daniel DeVault knew that choosing this show for the organization’s first production would create a great space for conversation and thought.
“Because the Humanity Theatre Project was founded around an election, It Can’t Happen Here seemed like the perfect place to begin our organization’s journey. At the time it was written, Sinclair Lewis’ novel was hailed as one of the most important books ever produced in the United States for its satirical and propagandistic view of a rising domestic dictatorship. Over eighty years later, our political climate has placed us in a strikingly similar path Lewis found himself on as he prepared to write this fictional, yet relevant tale. I am hopeful that our presentation of this story will incite meaningful discussions after the staged reading and throughout Middle Tennessee.”
The production will take place Thursday, November 1 – Saturday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the Darkhorse Theatre (4610 Charlotte). Suggested donations of $10 accepted at the door. A discussion featuring panelists from the community will follow each performance, which is the aim for all productions by the new company. For more information, please visit humanitytheatreproject.com.