It Can’t Happen Here

It Can’t Happen Here It Can’t Happen Here It Can’t Happen Here It Can’t Happen Here

It Can’t Happen Here

Adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen from the novel by Sinclair Lewis
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Main Season · Roda Theatre
September 23–November 6, 2016
World premiere

Running time: 2 hours, plus one 15-minute intermission

Written in 1935 during the rise of fascism in Europe, Sinclair Lewis’ darkly satirical It Can’t Happen Here follows the ascent of a demagogue who becomes president of the United States by promising to return the country to greatness. Witnessing the new president’s authoritarian tyranny from the sidelines is a liberal, middle-class newspaper editor from Vermont who is caught in the chaos of social upheaval. Sound familiar? Called “a message to thinking Americans” upon its publication, this eerily prescient book receives a new adaptation just in time for election season.

It Can’t Happen Here includes the use of herbal cigarettes, haze, and gunshot sound effects. Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. We don’t offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any concerns about content, please contact the box office.

Season sponsors

BARTPeet’s CoffeeWells Fargo

Lead sponsor

The Bernard Osher Foundation

Executive sponsor

Ira and Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund

Edgerton FoundationEdgerton Foundation New Play Award-winner

The play’s development has been supported in part by The Mosse Artistic Development Fund.

It Can’t Happen Here calendar

Creative team

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Tony Taccone · Adaptor

During Tony’s tenure as artistic director of Berkeley Rep, the Tony Award-winning nonprofit has earned a reputation as an international leader in innovative theatre. In those 19 years, Berkeley Rep has presented more than 70 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 23 shows to New York, two to London, and one to Hong Kong. Tony has staged more than 40 plays in Berkeley, including new work from Julia Cho, John Leguizamo, Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, Itamar Moses, and Lemony Snicket. He directed the shows that transferred to London, Continental Divide and Tiny Kushner, and two that landed on Broadway as well: Bridge & Tunnel and Wishful Drinking. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, Tony served as artistic director of Eureka Theatre, which produced the American premieres of plays by Dario Fo, Caryl Churchill, and David Edgar before focusing on a new generation of American writers. While at the Eureka, Tony commissioned Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America and co-directed its world premiere. He has collaborated with Kushner on eight plays at Berkeley Rep, including The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Tony’s regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, the Eureka Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, the Huntington Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Public Theater, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. As a playwright, he debuted Ghost Light, Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup, and Game On, written with Dan Hoyle. In 2012, Tony received the Margo Jones Award for “demonstrating a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of playwriting, with a commitment to the living theatre.”

Bennett S. Cohen · Adaptor

A graduate of Yale University’s School of Drama and UC Berkeley (where his collaborations with Tony Taccone date back further than either care to remember), Bennett has worked in theatre, film, and television. His play American Music was chosen to be part of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and has had numerous productions. His play Tequila was originally produced by the Eureka Theatre and has been published in West Coast Plays #8. Bennett has written extensively for film and television, working with such companies as Showtime, Paramount Television, Universal Television, and Fox International Productions, among others. He has adapted two novels for the screen, Jack Higgins’ WWII-era thriller Night of the Fox and Roderick Thorpe’s police drama Rainbow Drive. Other movies produced for television include The Hunted, The Magicians, His Bodyguard, and the Chameleon franchise sci-fi telefilms, which he created. His half-hour drama for PBS, The Fix, was nominated for the prestigious Humanitas Prize. He also wrote, directed, and produced The Dig as part of the ITVS sci-fi web-series Future States, which received a premiere screening at the SXSW Festival. Most recently, Bennett wrote the feature film The Last Voyage of Zheng He as a Chinese co-production for Fox International, collaborating on the story with the famed director, Zhang Yimou. As a journalist, Bennett has written for San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications, and his book The Zebra Murders, written with former SFPD Chief Prentice Earl Sanders, was published by Arcade Publishing and is currently in development as a series by Anonymous Content and Paramount Television, with Carl Franklin executive producing, and Bennett producing. He is currently consulting Lishui University in Lishui, China on the creation of a creative writing program.

Lisa Peterson · Director

Lisa Peterson is a two-time Obie Award-winning writer and director who is currently the associate director at Berkeley Rep. Previous projects at the Theatre include An Iliad (2012), which Lisa co-wrote with Denis O’Hare, and which won Obie and Lortel Awards for Best Solo Performance; Mother Courage (2006); The Fall (2001); and Antony & Cleopatra (1999). For California Shakespeare Theater, Lisa directed You Never Can Tell, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Other recent West Coast productions include Hamlet, Henry IV Pt 2, and Othello (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Chavez Ravine (Ovation Award for Best Production), Palestine New Mexico, Electricidad, Water, The House of Bernarda Alba, Body of Bourne, and Mules (Mark Taper Forum). In New York, Lisa has directed The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Traps, and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (Obie Award for Direction), all at New York Theatre Workshop; King Liz (2nd Stage Uptown); Hamlet in Bed (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theatre); The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters and The Chemistry of Change (Playwrights Horizons); The Square and Tongue of a Bird (the Public Theater); Fourth Sister and Batting Cage (Vineyard Theatre); Collected Stories (Manhattan Theatre Club); and The Model Apartment (Primary Stages). In Canada, she recently directed The Philanderer (Shaw Festival) and The Trouble with Mr. Adams (Tarragon). She has directed world premieres by many major American writers, including Tony Kushner, Beth Henley, Donald Margulies, Jose Rivera, Ellen McLaughlin, Mac Wellman, Marlane Meyer, Polly Pen, Naomi Wallace, and many others. She regularly works at the Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Sundance Theatre Lab. Lisa and Denis are working on a commission for the McCarter Theatre titled The Song of Rome, and Lisa is writing a new music-theatre piece with Todd Almond called The Idea of Order, co-commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, and Seattle Rep.

Rachel Hauck · Scenic Design

Rachel’s Berkeley Rep credits include An Iliad, Mother Courage, Antony & Cleopatra, and Valley Song. Her recent New York credits include Hadestown (New York Theatre Workshop); All the Ways to Say I Love You (MCC Theater); Dry Powder (the Public Theater); Antlia Pneumatica, Grand Concourse, Patron Saint of Sea Monsters, The Call, and Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons); Night Is a Room, Our Lady of Kibeho, and And I And Silence (Signature Theatre); Bright Half Life (Women’s Project Theater); To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theatre); Hamlet in Bed and Stay (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); An Iliad (NYTW, McCarter Theatre, tour); Slowgirl (LCT3); Harper Regan and Bluebird (Atlantic Theater Company); This Wide Night (Naked Angels); and Orange, Hat & Grace (Soho Rep). Her recent regional work includes Poster Boy and And No More Shall We Part (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Animal (Studio Theater in DC); The Good Book (Court Theatre); Roe, Into the Woods, The Music Man, and Othello (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Annenberg); and Clybourne Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (the Guthrie Theater), as well as work at the O’Neill Playwright’s Conference from 2005 to 2014. Rachel received the Princess Grace Award, Lilly Awards, and an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence.

Meg Neville · Costume Design

Meg’s recent Berkeley Rep credits include Macbeth; One Man, Two Guvnors; Party People; and X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story). She also worked on Tribes; The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Ghost Light; In the Wake; Yellowjackets; Eurydice; TRAGEDY: a tragedy; Suddenly Last Summer; Dinner with Friends; Closer; and The Life of Galileo. Her recent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival include Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2015), The Cocoanuts (2014), Taming of the Shrew (2013), and Ghost Light (2011). Meg is an associate artist with California Shakespeare Theater, where she has designed numerous productions including Lady Windermere’s Fan, An Ideal Husband, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and lots of Shakespeare. Other Bay Area theatre credits include Marin Theatre Company, the Cutting Ball Theater, American Conservatory Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Joe Goode Performance Group, and Magic Theatre. She has also worked at Second Stage Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Chicago Opera Theater, NY Stage and Film, Hartford Stage, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Portland Stage Company, and Dallas Theater Center. Meg is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Brown University and resides in San Francisco with her husband and three children.

Alexander V. Nichols · Lighting Design

Alex has designed more than 30 productions for Berkeley Rep. His Broadway credits include Wishful Drinking, Hugh Jackman—Back On Broadway, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. His off-Broadway productions include In Masks Outrageous and Austere, Los Big Names, Horizon, Bridge & Tunnel, Taking Over, Through the Night, and In the Wake. Alex has worked at regional theatres throughout the country, including American Conservatory Theater, Mark Taper Forum, National Theatre of Taiwan, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and La Jolla Playhouse, among others. His dance credits include resident designer for Pennsylvania Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet; lighting supervisor for American Ballet Theatre; and resident visual designer for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company since 1989. His designs are in the permanent repertory of San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance, Hong Kong Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, ODC/SF, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Alex’s other projects include the museum installation Circle of Memory, a collaboration with Eleanor Coppola, presented in Stockholm, Sweden, and the video and visual design for Life: A Journey Through Time, a collaboration with Frans Lanting and Philip Glass, presented at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Paul James Prendergast · Composer / Sound Design

This is Paul’s Berkeley Rep debut. Recent Bay Area credits include You Never Can Tell at California Shakespeare Theater, and composer for Ah, Wilderness and associate director for The Unfortunates at American Conservatory Theater. On Broadway he received a Drama Desk nomination for All The Way. His regional theatre credits include the Guthrie Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, American Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Asolo Repertory Company, Geffen Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Alley Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Florida Stage, South Coast Repertory, Kennedy Center, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Cornerstone Theater Company, and more than 20 productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Paul’s other credits include the Universal Studios, Disney, and Knott’s Berry Farm theme parks; the Treasure Island, MGM Grand, and Buffalo Bill’s casinos; the J. Paul Getty, Geffen Contemporary, and Autry National Center museums; and Diavolo Dance Theater, Momix, and Parsons Dance. His work as a singer/songwriter has appeared in films, on recordings, and in music venues nationwide.

Madeleine Oldham · Dramaturg

Madeleine is the director of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work and the Theatre’s resident dramaturg. She oversees commissioning and new play development, and dramaturged the world premiere productions of Aubergine, The House that will not Stand, Passing Strange, and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), among others. As literary manager and associate dramaturg at Center Stage in Baltimore, she produced the First Look reading series and headed up its young audience initiative. Before moving to Baltimore, she was the literary manager at Seattle Children’s Theatre, where she oversaw an extensive commissioning program. She also acted as assistant and interim literary manager at Intiman Theatre in Seattle. Madeleine served for four years on the executive committee of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and has also worked with ACT (Seattle), Austin Scriptworks, Crowded Fire, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the Kennedy Center, New Dramatists, Playwrights Center, and Portland Center Stage.

Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting

This is Amy’s 27th season at Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. Amy cast roles for various independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been an audition coach to hundreds of actors and a presentation/communication coach to many businesspeople. Amy taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, she was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and was nominated for Artios Awards for Excellence in Casting for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures and One Man, Two Guvnors.

Alaine Alldaffer, CSA · Casting

Alaine is also the casting director for Playwrights Horizons, where her credits include Grey Gardens (also for Broadway), Clybourne Park (also for Broadway), Circle Mirror Transformation (Drama Desk and Obie Awards for Best Ensemble and an Artios Award for casting), and The Flick (Playwright Horizons and the Barrow Street Theatre). Television credits include The Knights of Prosperity (aka Let’s Rob Mick Jagger) for ABC. Associate credits include Ed for NBC and Monk for USA. Her regional theatre credits include Arena Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and American Conservatory Theater. Alaine credits Lisa Donadio as her associate casting director.

Michael Suenkel* · Production Stage Manager

Michael began his association with Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern for the 1984–85 season and is now in his 23rd year as production stage manager. Some of his favorite shows include 36 Views, Endgame, Eurydice, Hydriotaphia, and Mad Forest. He has also worked with the Barbican in London, the Huntington Theatre Company, the Juste Pour Rire Festival in Montreal, La Jolla Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, the Public Theater and Second Stage Theater in New York, and Yale Repertory Theatre. For the Magic Theatre, he stage managed Albert Takazauckas’ Breaking the Code and Sam Shepard’s The Late Henry Moss.

Christina Hogan* · Assistant Stage Manager

Christina most recently stage managed run boy run at Magic Theatre. Other theatre credits include Monstress and Love and Information (American Conservatory Theater); Hookman (Encore Theatre Company); And I and Silence, Hir, Arlington, Every Five Minutes, The Happy Ones, Terminus, Se Llama Cristina, and Any Given Day (Magic Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun, Blithe Spirit, Much Ado About Nothing, The Verona Project, and Pastures of Heaven (California Shakespeare Theater); Selkie and Thieves (Rising Phoenix Repertory); and very still and hard to see (ACT Master of Fine Arts Program). Christina has a BA in theatre arts from Saint Mary’s College of California.


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Scott Coopwood* · Shad Ledue

Scott was recently seen at Berkeley Rep as Lennox in Macbeth. His regional favorites include the title roles in Hamlet, Macbeth, Cymbeline, King John, and Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as Iago in Othello; Edmund in King Lear; Angelo in Measure for Measure; Charlie in The Scene; Kippy in Take Me Out; Shylock in The Merchant of Venice; Jacques in As You Like It; Trigorin in The Seagull; Benedick, Don John, and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing; Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew; Harry Brock in Born Yesterday; Brennan in Frost/Nixon; Edward in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me; and Johan in Groundswell. He has performed at Arkansas Repertory Theatre; Artists Repertory Theatre; Capital Repertory Theatre; San Jose Repertory Theatre; Center Repertory Company; Capital Stage; the Utah, Orlando, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals; Arizona Theatre Company; Marin Theatre Company; Portland Center Stage; the Seattle and Marin Shakespeare Companies; Shotgun Players; and SF Playhouse; as well as work with the Toronto, Windsor, and Oregon Symphony Orchestras. Scott is also co-executive director of Shakespearience!, a Bay Area nonprofit education program for kids.

Scott Coopwood

Deidrie Henry* · Lorinda Pike

Deidrie previously appeared at Berkeley Rep in Yellowman. Her other regional credits include A Streetcar Named Desire and Closer (Portland Center Stage); A Raisin in the Sun and Parade (Center Theatre Group); Coming Home and Yellowman (winner of Best Actress Award from NAACP, Ovation Award, Backstage Garland Award, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award), both at the Fountain Theatre; American Night: The Ballad of Juan José (Yale Repertory Theatre); The Ballad of Emmett Till (Goodman Theatre); As You Like It, Three Sisters, Wit, Hamlet, and Seven Guitars, among others (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Blues for an Alabama Sky (the Alliance Theatre, Hartford Stage, Arena Stage, the Huntington Theatre Company), for which she was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was the winner of Backstage Bistro Award (New York) for Outstanding Vocalist and Cabaret Debut for her cabaret, What a Day for a Daydream. Her television credits include NBC’s new Game of Silence (series regular), The Riches, Criminal Minds, Justified, Glee, CSI, and others. Deidrie has appeared in the films Beyond the Lights and Beautiful Boy.

Deidrie Henry

William Thomas Hodgson* · Dr. Fowler Greenhill

William is making his Berkeley Rep debut. His regional credits include Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (La Jolla Playhouse), An Octoroon (Mixed Blood Theatre), El Henry (San Diego Repertory Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (PCPA), Trufaldino Says No (Shotgun Players), Seussical the Musical (Berkeley Playhouse), and I Am My Own Wife (Ubuntu Theater Project). He recently received his MFA from UC San Diego, and he is co-artistic director of the Ubuntu Theater Project in Oakland, CA.

William Thomas Hodgson

Anna Ishida* · Mary Jessup Greenhill / Jaime Johnson

This is Anna’s Berkeley Rep debut. She has performed locally with American Conservatory Theater (Mr. Burns: a post-electric play), TheatreWorks (Water by the Spoonful), Central Works (Red Virgin), Crowded Fire Theater (The Hundred Flowers Project), and several Shotgun Players productions. She has toured regionally and internationally with Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage, which was featured in the New Yorker’s “Top 12 Best Off-Broadway Shows” (2009) and was the recipient of an Edinburgh Fringe Herald Angel Award. She stars in San Francisco director H.P. Mendoza’s critically acclaimed experimental horror film I Am a Ghost. She is a recipient of the San Francisco Bay Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Award for Theatre (2012). Anna is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory Theatre and Mills College (English, BA).

Anna Ishida

David Kelly* · Buck Titus / Buzz Windrip

David previously appeared at Berkeley Rep in Fuente Ovejuna and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In 25 seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he appeared in Imaginary Invalid, Pirates of Penzance, My Fair Lady, Henry V, Hamlet, Three Musketeers, Richard II, Coriolanus, Baltimore Waltz, Pravda, Three Sisters, Much Ado About Nothing, Comedy of Errors, Death of a Salesman, Timon of Athens, Humble Boy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Noises Off, Servant of Two Masters, and Cyrano de Bergerac, among others. He also appeared in Harvey at the Guthrie Theater, Lovers and Executioners at South Coast Repertory, American Night at La Jolla Playhouse, Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter at the Kennedy Center, and Guys and Dolls at the Wallis Annenberg Center. David is an instructor at Southern Oregon University.

David Kelly

Sharon Lockwood* · Emma Jessup / Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch

Sharon was last seen at Berkeley Rep as Sonia in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, for which she received the Bay Area Critics Circle Award for lead performance. Other favorite Berkeley Rep credits include Zorro in Hell, Volpone, The Alchemist, Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Triumph of Love, Pentecost, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Magic Fire. Sharon has also performed extensively at American Conservatory Theater, most recently in Love and Information. Other ACT work includes roles in ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Hedda Gabler, The Rose Tattoo, The Royal Family, The Government Inspector, and A Christmas Carol (2005–15). She originated the role of Barbara in the world premiere of Nickel and Dimed under the direction of Bartlett Sher, which premiered at Intiman Theatre in Seattle and subsequently played the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. She reprised the role in a TheatreWorks/Brava for Women in the Arts co-production here in the Bay Area. Her other local credits include many appearances at California Shakespeare Theater (most recently as Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion), San Jose Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Center Rep, and many years with the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Regionally, she has performed at La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, the Alley Theatre, and Long Wharf Theatre. Sharon was honored with the 2016 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship and participated in the Master Class at Ten Chimneys in Wisconsin with master teacher actor Jason Alexander.

Sharon Lockwood

Alexander Lydon · Julian Falck

Alexander’s Berkeley Rep credits include Untitled Cambodian Rock Play (The Ground Floor) and Accidental Death of an Anarchist (understudy). His other credits include King of the Yees with Ashland New Plays Festival; 4 Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, a workshop at TheatreWorks; Belvile in The Rover at Shotgun Players; Petruchio (understudy) in Taming of the Shrew at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival; Magistrate Tiger in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon at Bay Area Children’s Theatre; and the Monkey King in 410[GONE] at Crowded Fire Theater.

Alexander Lydon

Gabriel Montoya · David / Mr. Dimick

Gabriel is thrilled to be making his Berkeley Rep debut. He was seen most recently in San Francisco Shakespeare on Tour’s Hamlet as The Ghost/Claudius, as Einstein in Beverly Hills Playhouse of San Francisco’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, as Austin in Theater MadCap’s True West, and as Mickey in Boxcar Theatre’s The Speakeasy. Last year, Gabriel made his San Francisco directing debut with Bennett Fisher’s Don’t Be Evil, produced by his wife, Robin Fontaine, through their production house, the Department of Badassery. Gabriel also works as a journalist specializing in the performance-enhancing drug problem in combat sports. His work has been featured or cited by, USA Today, ESPN, The L.A. Times, and the Guardian, among others. He is the co-host/co-producer of two weekly radio shows, The Next Round and Leave it in the Ring.

Gabriel Montoya

Tom Nelis* · Doremus Jessup

Tom previously appeared at Berkeley Rep as Robert Lowell in Dear Elizabeth. His other Bay Area performances include Ahab in Laurie Anderson’s Moby Dick at Zellerbach Hall, Going Going Gone at Magic Theatre, Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecencies at Theater on the Square, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at San Jose Repertory Theatre. Tom has appeared on Broadway in Aida, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, Enron, and The Visit. Off Broadway he has been seen at Classic Stage Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Signature Theatre Company, Theatre for a New Audience, and most recently at the Vineyard Theatre in Indecent. He has appeared throughout the country in many regional productions. Tom has performed at international festivals throughout the world with Laurie Anderson, Richard Foreman, and SITI Company as well as at the Royal Shakespeare Company and with the Suzuki Company of Toga. He is a founding member of SITI Company, now celebrating its 25-year anniversary. Tom has received a Barrymore nomination for Candide, a Drama League nomination for Score, an Obie for The Medium, a San Diego Critics Ensemble Award for Wintertime, and an Elliot Norton Award for Prospero in The Tempest. He earned his MFA at UC San Diego.

Tom Nelis

Charles Shaw Robinson* · Frank Tasbrough / Bishop Prang / Effingham Swan

Charles’ work for Berkeley Rep includes the role of the Father in Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice and John in her For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday. He also appeared in the world premiere of Swimmers by Rachel Bonds and in Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn—both at Marin Theatre Company. Other favorite roles include Sorn in Stupid F**king Bird and Leonard in Seminar (both for San Francisco Playhouse), Milton in Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul (Berkeley Rep), Iago in Othello (California Shakespeare Theater), and Henri in Magic Fire, directed by Jack O’Brien (Berkeley Rep/the Old Globe). His regional theatre credits include the title roles in Hamlet (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Pericles (Center Stage, Baltimore), and Scaramouche (the Empty Space Theatre, Seattle). He was last seen in New York in the American premiere of Frank McGuinness’ Gates of Gold at 59E59 Theaters.

Charles Shaw Robinson

Gerardo Rodriguez* · Karl Pascal

This is Gerardo’s Berkeley Rep debut. Other regional credits include Seven Spots on the Sun (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Elemeno Pea (Actors Theatre of Louisville—Humana Festival), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Mixed Blood Theatre), Kingdom (the Old Globe), and Instructions for Breathing (Passage Theatre). His New York credits also include Se Llama Cristina and Lucy Loves Me (INTAR Theatre), To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theatre), La Ruta and American Jornalero (Working Theater), Bodega Bay (Abingdon Theatre), and Dramatis Personae (Playwrights Realm). Gerardo can be seen in a movie premiering later this year called Blind with Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. Other television and film credits include The Blacklist, Person of Interest, Gossip Girl, Conviction, Law & Order, Law & Order: CI & SVU, Jonny Zero, Cruzando, Winter of Frozen Dreams, Don’t Let Me Drown, Last Night at Angelo’s, and Fish. Gerardo received his MFA at American Repertory Theatre/MXAT Moscow Art Theatre.

Gerardo Rodriguez

Will Rogers* · Philip Jessup

Will is proud to be making his Berkeley Rep debut. On the New York stage, he has starred in The Mound Builders (Signature Theatre, directed by Jo Bonney), Golden Age (Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Walter Bobbie), As You Like It (Shakespeare in the Park, directed by Daniel Sullivan), The Submission (MCC Theater), Unnatural Acts (Classic Stage Company), From Up Here (MTC), and Columbinus (New York Theatre Workshop). Regionally he has worked at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Humana Festival, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Pioneer Theatre. His film credits include Bridge of Spies (directed by Steven Spielberg), A Good Marriage (Stephen King, directed by Peter Askin), The Bay (directed by Barry Levinson), Nancy Please (TriBeCa Film Festival debut), Happy New Year, and Certainty. On television, Will has guest starred on Blue Bloods, Unforgettable, Law & Order: SVU, Gossip Girl, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He is a proud graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Will Rogers

Carolina Sanchez* · Sissy Jessup

Carolina is excited to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. Previous credits include Milk Like Sugar (Margie) at the Huntington Theatre Company, Iowa (Amanda) at Playwrights Horizons, the workshop of Murder at the Gates (Audrey), and the national tour of West Side Story (Rosalia/Maria U.S.). Carolina is a recent graduate of Westminster College of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in music.

Carolina Sanchez

Mark Kenneth Smaltz* · R.C. Crowley / John Pollikop

Mark is making his Berkeley Rep debut. His New York credits include several seasons with the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Vineyard Theatre, and the Working Theater. His regional theatre credits include Seattle Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Hartford Stage Company, Center Stage in Baltimore, and the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, amongst others. Mark has learned much about acting from directors Dan Sullivan, Mark Lamos, Jon Jory, Joanne Akalaitis, Adrian Hall, Mark Wing-Davey, Gregory Mosher, John Ferraro, Douglas Hughes, Liz Diamond, David Esbjornson, John Barton, Barry Edelstein, Arthur Hiller, Ted Kotcheff, Don Scardino, and John Pasquin. For 11 seasons Mark had a recurring role on Law & Order as Judge William Koehler, as well as other characters. His other TV credits include Law & Order: SVU and CI, Conviction, New York Undercover, Now and Again, 3 lbs, and Spin City.

Mark Kenneth Smaltz

* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

It Can’t Happen Here is beautifully directed by Berkeley Rep’s new associate director, Lisa Peterson. She makes exquisite use of her 14-person ensemble; they magically build and take apart endless sets in perfectly timed beats, keeping the stage bustling with an appealing flurry of activity. In more harrowing moments, lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols keeps characters isolated in ghoulish cones of light, accentuating the show’s point that demagogues flourish when thinking but complacent members of a society fail to rise up and act as a collective.”

San Francisco Chronicle

…virtual and visceral reality, delivered with high velocity…the play’s thrust was in what happens between politics’ extremes and how that affects the future of everyday people in a small Vermont town…[Director Lisa] Peterson wielded a deft hand, directing the cast with perfect balance…Tom Nelis showed terrific nuance as the protagonist Doremus Jessup…Deidre Henry as Lorinda Pike managed to win hearts while grafting herself onto a role with ambiguous morality…and also, a heroic figure in the fight for democracy.”

East Bay Express

Briskly staged by Lisa Peterson, this new version is pithy and animated…A story of the indomitable spirit of those who can’t simply stand by and watch this happen.”

Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s It Can’t Happen Here is a nightmare on so many levels, and that’s mostly a good thing. This is the right story at the right time…In [Sinclair] Lewis’ novel, which has been freshly adapted by Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen, the United States is a country at odds with itself…This well-produced gloom features a marvelous and quite active ensemble that also includes some standout work.”

Theater Dogs

Proves to be some strong medicine for liberals in this deeply divided political era. Because, of course, it can happen here…[It Can’t Happen Here] is a thought-provoking and effective reminder that democracies are fragile things.”


Watch now

Behind the scenes: The cast

It Can’t Happen Here cast members reveal what it’s like to perform a play that mirrors our current political climate.

Official trailer: It Can’t Happen Here

Get a sneak peek at this new adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel, just in time for election season!

Behind the scenes: Adaptor Tony Taccone

“The parallels to what’s going on now are so astonishing…” Tony Taccone unpacks the relevance of It Can’t Happen Here.

Behind the scenes: Director Lisa Peterson

Get a glimpse at the rehearsal process for It Can’t Happen Here.

Behind the scenes: Scenic art

See how our scenic artists created backdrops for It Can’t Happen Here based on the iconic national parks posters.

Teaser: It Can’t Happen Here

Our new adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ novel begins September 23!

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Docent talks and discussions

Pre-show docent talks

Meet us in the Theatre an hour before the show on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an engrossing presentation about your subscription-season play. Hear about the playwright’s perspective, dive into the historical context, and discover why the script is relevant right now. Each 30-minute talk includes plenty of time for your questions.

Post-show docent-led discussions

Join your fellow audience members after all matinees and share your thoughts on the show.

Interested in becoming a docent? Click here for details. For more information about Berkeley Rep’s docent program, please email

Teen Night

Teen Night gives local teens the opportunity to meet for dinner and a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team before attending each subscription-season production at an extremely discounted price.

  • Friday, September 23, 2016

Teen Night begins at 6:30pm at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. Tickets are $10. Learn more. To reserve your space, call Teen Council at 510 647–2984 or email

Presidential debates

BAMPFA, Berkley Rep, and Berkeley’s Downtown Business Association present live screenings of the presidential debates from 6–7:30pm at BAMPFA’s jumbo outdoor screen at the corner of Addison and Oxford Streets. Bring your own seating and refreshments (alcohol is not permitted)—the events take place rain or shine!

  • Monday, September 26, 2016
  • Sunday, October 9, 2016
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Page to Stage

Every season, Berkeley Rep hosts Page to Stage, a series of free discussions with eminent theatre artists, designed to give audiences additional insight into the plays and playwrights produced at Berkeley Rep. Past programs have featured theatre luminaries such as David Edgar, Sarah Jones, Tony Kushner, Delroy Lindo, Donald Margulies, Terrence McNally, Charles Mee, Rita Moreno, Salman Rushdie, and the Chicano performance trio Culture Clash.

  • Monday, October 10, 2016
    A conversation about bringing to the stage Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here with adaptors Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen, moderated by Resident Dramaturg Madeleine Oldham

Each talk starts at 7pm and runs about 60 minutes. No tickets are necessary for these free events, but seating is limited. The lobby opens at 6pm, and doors to the Theatre open at 6:30pm for general admission seating. Berkeley Rep donors at the Contributor level or higher ($150+) enjoy reserved seating. For more information about Page to Stage or how to become a donor, call 510 647–2906.

A conversation on elections and the media

Berkeley Rep’s It Can’t Happen Here looks at how a small-town, liberal journalist in 1930s America has his worldview changed by a demagogue-turned-dictator who gets elected instead of FDR in 1936. Using the play as a jumping off point, Literary Manager Sarah Rose Leonard will host a series of conversations with prominent journalists about the role of the media in an election cycle. We will explore how the media has interacted with politics in past elections, and how exactly this year has sent the field into a crisis.

  • Friday, October 14, 2016
    Ed Wasserman · Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley
  • Friday, November 4, 2016
    Robert J. Rosenthal · Executive Director of The Center for Investigative Reporting

No tickets are necessary for these free events. Meet us at Michael’s Second Act, our bar located off the Narsai David Courtyard, at 10:30pm. The events will start with an interview, then will open up into an audience Q&A.

Post-show discussions

Stick around after select performances for lively Q&A sessions with our artists on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.

  • Thursday, October 13, 2016
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2016
  • Friday, October 28, 2016

A nationwide reading

In 1936, Sinclair Lewis adapted his novel into a play under the auspices of the Federal Theatre Project, and 21 theatres across the country opened productions on the same night.

During the week of October 24, 2016—the 80th anniversary of that nationwide opening—Berkeley Rep was joined by 50 organizations across 24 states for a series of free, public readings of the new adaptation by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen. Host organizations included 20 theaters, 12 universities, 12 libraries, a high school, a coffee house, and four in-home readings.

The nationwide reading was made possible thanks to the generous support of Barbara and Rodgin Cohen and Orin Kramer, with the cooperation of the Sinclair Lewis Estate.

Participating organizations


Ozark Living Newspaper at The Rep Annex
Little Rock, AR


Berkeley Public Library Playreaders
Berkeley, CA

Calabazas Branch Library
San Jose, CA

Coffee Bandits
Merced, CA

Custom Made Theatre Co.
San Francisco, CA

Mary L. Stephens Davis Library, sponsored by Yolo County Library
Davis, CA

University of Redlands Department of Theatre Arts
Redlands, CA

USC School of Dramatic Arts
Los Angeles, CA

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum
Topanga, CA


Curious Theatre Group
Denver, CO

Su Teatro
Denver, CO


Connecticut Heritage Productions at Russell Library
Middletown, CT


American Stage
St. Petersburg, FL


16th Street Theater
Berwyn, IL

Aurora University Department of Art and Theatre
Aurora, IL

Chicago Dramatists
Chicago, IL

Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance
Normal, IL

The Upstagers—A Playreading Group
Evanston, IL


Butler University Department of Theatre with cooperation from Indiana Repertory Theatre
Indianapolis, IN

University of Notre Dame Department of Film, Television, and Theatre
Notre Dame, IN


Lisbon Public Library
Lisbon, IA


Emporia State University Theatre Arts
Emporia, KS


Jefferson Parish Library
Metairie, LA


Portland Stage
Portland, ME


Vineyard Haven Public Library
Vineyard Haven, MA

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater
Wellfleet, MA


Detroit Repertory Theatre
Detroit, MI


St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud, MN

University of Minnesota Duluth Department of Theatre
Duluth, MN


The Arts At Page Library, Inman E. Page Library
Jefferson City, MO

New Hampshire

Keene Public Library
Keene, NH

Matchbook Players Monadnock at Jaffrey Public Library
Jaffrey, NH

New Jersey

The Collaboratory at Rutgers University–Newark and New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, NJ

New Mexico

FUSION Theatre
Albuquerque, NM

New York

Cooperstown High School
Cooperstown, NY

Hobart and William Smith Colleges Department of Theatre
Geneva, NY

Metropolitan Playhouse
New York, NY

Pendragon Theatre
Saranac Lake, NY


Yellow Springs Theater Company at Yellow Springs Library
Yellow Springs, OH

South Carolina

The Village Repertory Co. in residence at Woolfe Street Playhouse
Charleston, SC


Austin, TX


Deborah Rawson Memorial Library
Jericho, VT

Hartland Public Library and Windsor Public Library
Hartland and Windsor, VT

Mad River Valley Libraries
Warren, VT

The Manchester Players
Manchester, VT

West Virginia

Fairmont State University Departments of Communication and Theatre Arts and Language and Literature
Fairmont, WV

Plus private in-home readings

Saratoga, CA
Woodside, CA
Holyoke, MA
New York, NY