Berkeley Rep Announces 2016-17 Season Opener; Sinclair Lewis’ Classic Novel It Can’t Happen Here To Be Adapted by Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone

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Berkeley Rep Announces 2016-17 Season Opener


Sinclair Lewis’ Classic Novel It Can’t Happen Here To Be Adapted by

Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone



March 28, 2016 – Berkeley Rep, always a leader in generating timely theatrical work, announced today that a new adaptation of the classic novel It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis will open its 2016-17 season. The new adaptation will be created by Tony Taccone and screenwriter Bennett Cohen, and the production will be helmed by award-winning director Lisa Peterson.


Published in 1935, during the rise of fascism in Europe, It Can’t Happen Here follows the ascent of a charismatic, power-hungry, and corrupt politician, who runs for president of the United States on a platform of “good ol’ American values,” promising “to return the country to greatness.” He wins the office and then leads the country into totalitarianism and a resulting financial and political tailspin. The story is told through the eyes of a liberal journalist, who bears knowing witness to the threat but is unable to take action until circumstances leave him no choice.


Sinclair Lewis’ astoundingly prescient novel gets a fresh update in this world premiere adaptation that examines what brings a citizenry to the point of sacrificing its freedom and how a courageous few can prevail to overcome the fall.


“This story is as relevant today as it was in 1935,” says Taccone. “As artists, we have a responsibility to respond to the current political climate. Every American has a shared stake in this culture of anger and fear. To me, what is most compelling is how we allow something like this to happen. These are the questions we must ask ourselves.”


Shortly following the publication of Lewis’s novel, the Federal Theatre Project sponsored development of a theatrical adaptation. Taccone explains, “Lewis’s original book is epic in scope, capturing a large swath of the American experience. Our new adaptation will be equally ambitious in tackling these critical issues.”


It Can’t Happen Here follows the previously announced 2016-17 season which includes The Last Tiger in Haiti, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse and directed by Joshua Kahan Brody; and the return of Kneehigh with the U.S. premiere of 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, in association with Kneehigh and Birmingham Repertory Theatre and helmed by Emma Rice. After a successful Broadway run, the irreverent comedy Hand to God, directed by David Ivers, will have its West Coast premiere; and Roe, a new play by Lisa Loomer and a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Arena Stage.



Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed nearly 400 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities – which include the 400-seat Peet’s Theatre, the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley – are helping revitalize a renowned city. Learn more at

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