Our Fall Tour Dates
CANCELED SHOWS: Sat, Oct 17 & Sun, Oct 18 – more info below.
Sat Sept 26 – Fable Farm Orchard, Barnard
Sun Sept 27 – East End Park, Woodstock
Sun Oct 4 – Factory Point Town Green, Manchester
Sat Oct 10 – State House Lawn, Montpelier
Sun Oct 11 – Leddy Park, Burlington
Sat Oct 17 – Chandler Arts, Randolph CANCELED
Sun Oct 18 – Living Memorial Park, Brattleboro CANCELED
Sun, Oct 25 – Lyman Park in WRJ
All shows begin at 2pm
It Can’t Happen Here fall staged reading tour!
Directed by Maureen Hennigan
Aaron Michael Hodge
Joanna Pejouhy Kell
BarnArts is deeply sorry to announce that due to the tragic death of a cast member, our October 17 and 18 performances in Randolph and Brattleboro have been canceled.
In this production of It Can’t Happen Here, Jeff Tolbert was portraying the quietly heroic Doremus Jessup, a Vermont newspaper editor who makes a decision to stand up to tyranny when democracy is under threat. Jeff knew well the Vermont and WPA theater history attached to this story and was committed to bringing the play to the community this year and also in our 2018 fully staged production, in which he also acted. Jeff performed in “Words in the Field” BarnArts monologue fundraiser this past summer.
Jeff acted and sang with theaters across the U.S. and in Europe, including the San Francisco Opera, American Conservatory Theater, Circle in the Square, Weston Playhouse, Vermont Shakespeare Festival, and the Chandler Center for the Arts Pride Festival. Randolph was his home.
We send our most profound condolences to Jeff’s family and friends. A decision will be made in the coming days about the performance scheduled for October 25 in White River Junction, which we hope may be a tribute to Jeff and his love of the stage.
Sliding Scale Donation: $5-25
Reservations strongly recommended.
Specific venue info:
Saturday, September 26, 2pm: Fable Farm Orchard, 1525 Royalton Turnpike Road, Barnard, Vermont. Some chairs available. Fable Farm Fermentary will have the tasting bar open after the performance.
Sunday, September 27, 2pm: East End Park, 54 Maxham Meadow Way, Woodstock, Vermont. Tiered stone amphitheater seating, bring cushions/blankets or chairs.
Sunday, October 4, 2 pm: Factory Point Town Green, Depot Street near intersection with Main Street (VT Route 7A), Manchester, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets.
Saturday, October 10, 2 pm: State House Lawn, 115 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets.
Sunday, October 11, 2pm: Leddy Park, 216 Leddy Park Road, Burlington, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets.
Saturday, October 17, 2 pm: Chandler Arts presents at Farr’s Hill, 24 Elm Street, Randolph, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets. CANCELED
Sunday, October 18, 2 pm: Living Memorial Park, 61 Guilford Street, Brattleboro, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets. CANCELED
Sunday, October 25, 2 pm: Lyman Point Park, 167 Maple Street, White River Junction, Vermont. Bring chairs and blankets.
At all venues, stage and seating areas will be cordoned off and audience will enter through one controlled COVID19 safety check-in entrance. Ushers will support 6-feet of space between parties. Masks are required in the audience area except while eating or drinking. (Food/drink may be brought in at all venues except Fable Farm Orchard.)
Shows are 1 act, approx 80 minutes.
Shows will be canceled due to Rain, Snow or Frigid Conditions. Tickets will be refundable or transferable.
More info on the production:
All performances will follow current state guidelines for outdoor public events, including limited 150 capacity, cordoned off stage and seating areas with ample space and guidance for 6 feet of distance between small groups and controlled entrance and exits. Masks will be required in our performance area and our staff and performers will be wearing masks, except while performing. Our performance space will be a minimum of 12 feet from the audience.
BarnArts produced a stage production of this same play in June 2018 and the current cast will be blend of returning and new actors. The 2018 production was held outdoors on a farm in Barnard just down the road from where Sinclair Lewis wrote the book in 1935. Here is an article in 7-Days on the original production: https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/barnarts-stages-timely-production-of-it-cant-happen-here/Content?oid=16884189
Lewis’s satirical novel depicts a fascist takeover of the United States after a populist candidate defeats FDR for the 1936 Democratic nomination. The protagonist, Doremus Jessup, is an aging newspaper editor who decides to make a stand and use the press as a weapon against dictatorship, which winds him up in a military prison. Former Barnard resident Sinclair Lewis – the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature – created It Can’t Happen Here between the Great Depression and World War 2, when characters such as Huey Long, Father Charles Coughlin, and “America Firster” Charles Lindbergh sought to isolate America from the rest of the world even as obvious threats to both democracy and Western civilization were on the march.
BarnArts was originally motivated to produce the play partly due to the political climate but also because of the local connection, and these reasons still drive this traveling 2020 version. The story was written by Lewis while he was living in Barnard, it takes place in Vermont, and is full of local Vermont characters: humble and egotistical revolutionaries of all types to fit the 1930’s class turmoil. The lead character, Doremus Jessup, represents the stolid eyes of wisdom in contrast to the propaganda-manipulated working class and the elite power-hungry. BarnArts performs the 2016 Berkeley Repertory Theater commissioned adaptation of Lewis’s novel by Taccone and Cohen.
While BarnArts original cast were eighteen actors, ranging in age from 8 to 65, the current cast will be a lean 13 adult actors switching up over 30 roles in a fast-paced narrative of hope, defeat, loss, revenge and renewal that dissects the “what if?” limitations of American Democracy.
A notorious social critic and cultural satirist, Lewis had already established his literary credentials by the time his new novel was released, but much of the credit for his latest creation belonged to his wife, a foreign correspondent whose star was rising just as Lewis’s was descending. Journalist Dorothy Thompson was considered the second most influential woman in America after Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930’s and 40’s. She interviewed Adolf Hitler before he came to power and was later expelled from Germany for belittling him in the press and exposing his authoritarian ambitions. She found refuge at Twin Farms, the home she shared with Lewis in Barnard, Vermont, where she continued to speak out about the increasing likelihood of world war and the plight of European refugees. Thompson’s experiences and reporting motivated Sinclair Lewis to do similar work, but in his own genre – fiction – and he wrote It Can’t Happen Here at a fevered pace in the summer of 1935 at Twin Farms in Barnard.
It is a special historical event, taking It Can’t Happen Here on the road in Vermont, the state where the story was written, during a year of upheaval and just before a challenging presidential election. The performance coincides with local filmmaker Teo Zagar’s production of a documentary about Thompson and Lewis that may feature scenes from BarnArts’ production. The film, Without Fear or Favor: Dorothy Thompson’s Warnings to the West, is also sponsored by BarnArts and a teaser can be viewed at www.withoutfearorfavorfilm.com.
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