Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It Can't Happen Here... Right?

Hey there everyone. Long time no talk, huh?  Yeah, I know, I know... apologies, Mea Culpa, etc (you can always tell how busy I am by how often I update this blog and which hasn't been too often of late, so you can draw your own conclusions.)

Even with everything that's been going on, though, I wanted to take a minute today to let you know about a very cool project I'm going to be part of tonight, Monday, October 24 at 7:30 PM.  Portland's Fuse Theater Ensemble is joining theaters around the country to perform a staged reading of It Can't Happen Here - an adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel that was performed in 22 theaters (in 18 US Cities) as part of the Federal Theater Project in 1936.  The nationwide readings commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of those Federal Theater Project readings.

So, why should you care about a play written in 1936?  What possible relevance could it have to the world we're living in right now?  Well... the book (and the play) were written during a time when no one could find a job... when the median income in the united states had hit rock bottom and didn't look like it would ever rise... when people were taking to the streets to demand a change.  In a situation like this, it's easy to see how people could fall in line behind a charismatic leader who promised to make things better (no, I'm not going to put a current-events link on THAT one... I'll let you draw your own contemporary conclusions...) even though s/he could turn out to be a dictator.

That's what this play is about, after all... it envisions a fictional America where a powerful president becomes a dictator - abolishing labor unions, free speech, and the free press. His sinister allies, known only as "the Corpos," recruit unemployed and dissatisfied young people and intimidate anyone who opposes their agenda. "No one agreed on the play," Hallie Flanagan told an audience some months later, "but everyone had to see it. It was called good, bad, savage, mild, American, un-American, Fascist, communist, too far left, too far right, a work of genius, a work of the devil."

I hope you'll join me tonight at Theater! Theatre! (check for the address and a map link)  for this celebration - and cautionary tale.  Admission is free, though donations for Fuse Theater Ensemble and Occupy Portland will be accepted.

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