The dark satire It Can’t Happen Here opens (in previews) tonight at Berkeley Rep, adapted from the novel by Sinclair Lewis. It tells the story of the rise to the American presidency of a fascist candidate named Buzz Windrip, who runs on a populist right-wing platform. The adaptation was by Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen, and will run until just before Election Day.
There’s more information about the production at the Berkeley Rep website.
Tony Taccone says when the decision was made to go ahead with the play, Donald Trump was just one of 16 candidates, and not expected to win the nomination, let alone the election: “There’s obviously astonishing parallels between the fictional character that Lewis invented, Buzz Windrip, who’s running for president on an overtly populist, right-wing platform, and Trump. But the larger issue of the book is not about that, it’s not… and the larger issue of our play is not about, isn’t this like Trump? In Lewis’s mind, there is a pattern of fear and ignorance and money that collude to make people like Buzz Windrip (and Donald Trump) keep reappearing on the American landscape.” And the play remains set in 1936, which, he says, adds to the timelessness of the threat. “When you see it set then, and you’re in the audience now, and you see the astonishing similarities, and the parallels, you can’t help but conclude this is a systemic problem.”