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National reading of It Can’t Happen Here, October 24

Image of a man performing in the play It Can't Happen Here at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre,

An image from the play It Can't Happen Here at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, one of the many theater companies across the United States staging the play on October 24, including Illinois State University.

Illinois State University will take part in the national reading of It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis at 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 24 at Westhoff Theatre, 401 S. School St., Normal.

Lori Adams

Lori Adams

The performance will be an adaptation of It Can’t Happen Here, a novel Lewis wrote in 1935 that imagines the rise of fascism in America. The book talks about race riots, a growing income gap between the rich and the poor, the stigmatizing of immigrants, global terror, and an extremist running for president.

All across the United States, theaters will be hosting performances of the adaption the week of October 24. Lewis’ estate is allowing all performances to be free and open to the public. The Illinois State performance is sponsored by the College of Fine Arts and the Sinclair Lewis Society.

Professor of Theatre Lori Adams will direct the Illinois State reading, with the cast including students, alumni, and members of the faculty. “I’m struck by how something written so many years ago still rings so true,” said Adams. “When the opportunity arose to present the staged-reading of It Can’t Happen Here, I felt the need to explore the responsibility that we as citizens have.”

image of Sally Parry

Sally Parry

“In the play and the novel on which it’s based, the main character, Doremus Jessup, rues the complacency with which he watched the presidential election,” said Associate Professor of English and Associate Dean Sally Parry, who is also the executive director of the national Sinclair Lewis Society. “When a candidate who turns out to be a fascist is elected, he blames ‘Responsible Citizens’ like himself, who just assumed that the status quo would be preserved. This work shows how vital it is for all citizens to be an active part of our democracy in order to preserve it.”

For additional information, contact Parry at (309) 438-5669, or Adams at (309) 438-8945.


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