Public Reading of "It Can't Happen Here" Planned for Oct. 24

Friday, October 21, 2016

On Monday, Oct. 24, the Fairmont State University Department of Communication and Theatre Arts and Department of Language and Literature will host a free public reading of the new stage adaptation of “It Can’t Happen Here,” based on the 1935 novel written by Sinclair Lewis.

The new adaptation of Lewis’ classic had its world premiere performance at Berkeley Rep on Sept. 30, 2016. It will be performed on Monday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Wallman Hall Studio Theatre on the Fairmont State campus. The event is free and open to the public. Information about the national initiative is available at

In 1936 the novel was adapted into a play, and theatres across the country opened productions on the same night. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of those productions, 43 regional theatres, universities and community organizations from 22 states will read the new adaptation by Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director Tony Taccone and screenwriter Bennett S. Cohen. Fairmont State is proud to be the sole representative for the state of West Virginia.

Written 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. Witnessing the new president’s authoritarian tyranny from the sidelines is a liberal, middle-class newspaper editor from Vermont who is caught in the chaos of social upheaval.

“Lewis’ novel reads like it was ripped out of today’s headlines,” says Theatre professor John O'Connor, who is coordinating the event. “Whether he’s describing Buzz Windrip, the demagogue who wins the presidency based on the promise of making our country great again, or Doremus Jessup, a liberal newspaper editor who simply waits too long to take Windrip seriously, Lewis’ understanding of our political system was precise and far reaching.”

The reading features FSU Language and Literature faculty members Donna Long, Jim Matthews and Angela Schwer, and administrative assistant Zack Curry; Librarian Kathleen Kennedy; School of Fine Arts faculty members Susan Cato-Chapman, Joni Gray, John O'Connor, Anne Patterson and Troy Snyder; and Theatre majors Justin Allan, Morgan Carder, Gary Hayes, Bailey Kershner and Travis Wilson.