The Rogue Theatre adds its voice to a national nod to the Federal Theatre Project on its 75th anniversary.

Monday, the Rogue is staging a reading of the play "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffitt. It is joining about 20 other theaters around the country that will also stage a reading of the play.

The Federal Theatre Project was established in 1935 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. The idea was to provide work for artists, who, like the rest of the country, were suffering from the Depression.

The project lasted just four years, but in that time theaters across the country lit up with plays that provoked and entertained.

One of those plays was "It Can't Happen Here." In 1936, 22 theaters in 18 cities staged the production. More than 300,000 saw it.

Slightly satirical and very controversial at the time, "It Can't Happen Here" is about an American politician who, under the guise of patriotism, forms an army and grabs unconstitutional power after he's elected. Think Hitler. When a journalist writes about what's happening, the struggles begin.

The organizers of Monday's event quoted Hallie Flanagan, director of the FTP, on its website (

"No one agreed on the play, but everyone had to see it," she said several months after the 1936 production ended.

"It was called good, bad, savage, mild, American, un-American, fascist, communist, too far left, too far right, a work of genius, a work of the devil."

The Rogue staging is slated for 7:30 p.m. Monday at the theater, 300 E. University Blvd., in the Historic Y. A donation of $10 is suggested.

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