Generally speaking, when monsters rise to power, arts and culture answer the call to up its game—both in terms of new output and the revival of work that rings true across generations. Santa Fe Playhouse's recent production of 1984 comes to mind most immediately, but the parallels don't end there.
Enter the Adobe Rose Theatre and its upcoming staged reading of It Can't Happen Here!, a play first adapted from the 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel of the same name in 1936. First off, "it" (namely, fascism) can and does happen here (and there and everywhere). The relatively lesser-known work from the author of The Jungle is so spot-on, it led the New York Times to declare in January of this year that it had basically predicted the age of Trump. Yikes.
In the play, newspaper editor Doremus Jessup recalls the mounting power of an authoritarian president who capitalizes on fear and military might to ensnare the American people in his labyrinth of hateful and paranoid leadership. It's starkly familiar, even downright terrifying, and an apt forecast from an author who never could have known the mess we'd be in today. Some things, it seems, are always scary.
"It's just so damn timely," says Kathy Flynn, the executive director of the Santa Fe chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association, which sponsors the reading. "It's a story of us getting a dictator for a president." Flynn says the same production occurs in other cities across the country on the same day with similar casts. In Santa Fe, participants include local high school students as well as state legislator Liz Stefanics and former Lensic Performing Arts Center executive director Bob Martin, who also directs.
Proceeds benefit the NNDPA, which works to maintain the legacy of FDR's New Deal and its effects on American labor and culture. Of the show and its potential to open eyes and change minds, Flynn adds that she "has to believe it might do something. … I just feel like people need to hear it from a different source." We won't hold our breath for any particular change but, like Flynn, we just have to believe. (Alex De Vore)
It Can't Happen Here! Staged Reading
7 pm Monday Nov. 6. $15.
Adobe Rose Theatre,
1213 Parkway Drive,
For how advanced we seem to be as a people, the concept of death is often not discussed and still terrifies. Imagine the difficulty in knowing you are absolutely going to die—soon. The New Mexico Nurses Association and New Mexico Nurses Foundation come together to address these hard truths with a screening of the documentary Defining Hope—a film that follows people in hospice and their caregivers—and a Q&A with Santa Fe nurse Keith Carlson follows. The transition needn't be terrifying, though it surely remains difficult; perhaps this film will offer some degree of comfort. (ADV)
Defining Hope Screening and Q&A
7 pm Wednesday Nov. 1. $8-$12.
Violet Crown Cinema,
1606 Alcaldesa St.,
If you read this week's theater column ("Goody Goody," page 31), you'll already be aware that the students of New Mexico School for the Arts are pretty talented, but their cultural chops are hardly limited to drama. To wit: this weekend's Fall Dance Showcase. These young folk have been dancing their toes to the bone (that's a phrase, right?) in the forms of ballet, jazz and contemporary styles, and here present seven pieces for your enjoyment. We'd just like to point out that young people are limber, learn quicker than old folks and these kids auditioned with the best of New Mexico just to get into the school. So yeah, dance fans, it'll probably be good. (ADV)
Fall Dance Showcase
7 pm Thursday Nov. 2; 6:30 pm Friday Nov. 3; 2 and 5 pm Saturday Nov. 4. $5-$10.
James A Little Theatre,
1060 Cerrillos Road,
The last time we saw Alejandro Escovedo was about a bazillion years ago at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, and we're pleased to announce he's gone way more intimate for his next Santa Fe show. At GiG Performance Space, Escovedo's tunes—think a glorious mix of rock and Latin styles—can really reach out and grab you. Ultra-fans (of which there are many) ought to like that, and newcomers will no doubt discover what's made him such an enduring musical force for these many years. Also, he's a shredder. So hard. Get your tickets quickly—this will sell out. (ADV)
7:30 pm Saturday Nov. 4. $35-$40.
GiG Performance Space,
1808 Second St.