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Humanity Theatre Project Explores the Fragility of Democracy with First Production

Humanity Theatre Project Explores the Fragility of Democracy with First Production What would have happened if the United States had voted the wrong president into office in 1936 and the country had descended into fascism? That is the question explored as The Humanity Theatre Project launches its first season with a staged reading of It Can't Happen Here (Part 1) adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen from the novel by Sinclair Lewis. The production will take place Thursday, November 1 through Saturday, November 3 at 7:00 pm at The Darkhorse Theatre, 4610 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville.

A discussion featuring panelists from the community will follow each performance, which is the aim for all productions by the new company.

Based on the 1930s dystopian novel of the same name, It Can't Happen Here presents a cautionary, semi-satirical look at the fragility of democracy. Adapted for the stage by Berkeley Rep in 2016, this new version follows the ascent of Senator Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip (loosely based on Huey P. Long), a demagogue who easily wins the 1936 presidential election by promising to return the country to greatness.

The rise of Windrip is watched disapprovingly by Doremus Jessup, the editor of the Fort Beulah Daily Informer. As Windrip comes down on the press, Jessup winds up in the crosshairs while others reassure themselves that fascism cannot "happen here." Sinclair Lewis' eerily prescient 1935 novel gets a fresh update in this adaptation that examines what brings a citizenry to the point of sacrificing its own freedom.

"Because the Humanity Theatre Project was founded around an election, It Can't Happen Here seemed like the perfect place to begin our organization's journey," says Daniel DeVault, THP artistic director. "At the time it was written, Sinclair Lewis' novel was hailed as one of the most important books ever produced in the United States for its satirical and propagandistic view of a rising domestic dictatorship. Over eighty years later, our political climate has placed us in a strikingly similar path Lewis found himself on as he prepared to write this fictional, yet relevant tale. I am hopeful that our presentation of this story will incite meaningful discussions after the staged reading and throughout Middle Tennessee."

Suggested donations of $10 will be accepted at the door. Reservations and additional information will be available at

About the Humanity Theatre Project

On February 28, 2017, the Humanity Theatre Project announced its presence in the Nashville theatre community by hosting "One Night of Empathy," which involved 14 Nashville theatre companies-ranging from professional to high school. The event included short scenes, staged readings, and musical numbers that embraced social issues and spurred conversations about empathy. This was the first step in achieving the organization's primary goal: creating conversations that matter.

Employing the arts as a catalyst, the Humanity Theatre Project aims to celebrate differences, celebrate similarities, and celebrate our shared humanity while creating discussions about and raising awareness of empathy in Nashville and across the country. For more information about the Humanity Theatre Project, please visit

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