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Theatre History Podcast # 23

Is It Happening Here? Dr. Paul Gagliardi on the Return of the Federal Theatre Project’s It Can’t Happen Here



Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here tells the story of a fictional populist who rises to power and establishes a Fascist regime in the United States. The novel soon became a play, produced by Hallie Flanagan and the Federal Theatre Project. Some eighty years after the play premiered, it’s become a topic of conversation again because of its perceived relevance to the current political climate, and a number of theatre companies have revived it. Paul Gagliardi is an expert on the Federal Theatre Project, and his recent HowlRound article explores both the history of It Can’t Happen Here’s original run and the renewal of interest in it in the twenty-first century.

vintage photo of theater production
Yiddish production of It Can't Happen Here by a Los Angeles unit of the Federal Theatre Project, 1936.


  • Learn more about the premiere of It Can’t Happen Here in 1936.

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Thoughts from the curator

This podcast aims to introduce listeners to the artists, scholars, and archivists who are working to bring the history of performance to life. We hope that, by listening to this show, you’ll learn about exciting new performances, fascinating books, and valuable repositories of knowledge, all of which will help you better understand theatre’s history.

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