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Spring Production Inspires


This year’s spring production was an original play based on Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 dystopian political novel, It Can’t Happen Here.

Principia College students and community members performed a resurrection of the original script, which has been seen infrequently since its publication and performances around the United States in 1936. Those involved with production wanted the performance to educate, challenge, and inspire important conversations about democracy in preparation for the upcoming election year. 

The rehearsal process began with the entire cast’s participation in an acting intensive led by Chicago theatre artist Dawn Arnold. Over the course of 3 days, Arnold led the actors through creative explorations and acting exercises based on the acting technique of Michael Chekhov. “This work shaped the rehearsal process and helped to create complex and imaginative characters that brought Lewis’ story to life in a compelling and visceral way,” says director Chrissy Calkins Steele.  

After each performance, Professor John Williams (C’72) engaged the audience in a discussion about the issues raised by the play and provided historical context that influenced Lewis’ original work. “We hoped that this play would prompt conversations about democracy today, not only in the US but around the world,” says Steele. “While the arts can entertain or inspire, we also hope that what we create will shine a light on issues, educate, challenge, or even be a call to action.”

One audience member shared they felt called to act after seeing the show and plan to commit to an hour of prayer each day about the issues discussed in the play. Steele was particularly inspired by this response. “I believe this is the most important action we can take in response to the challenges that this play illuminated,” she shares.