‘IT CAN HAPPEN HERE’
BY ALEJANDRA O'CONNELL-DOMENECH
A Queens-based play entitled “It Can Happen
Here” is set to premiere at the Jamaica
Performing Arts Center, located at 153-10
Jamaica Ave., on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
The play, written by Queens-native Judith Sloan
and described as “a dramatic comedy with songs,”
tells the story of two hairdressers, Riva and Serena,
who embark on a new journey together and pursue
their passion for singing and tending to community
members while their nation suffers in a political
climate of chaos.
The characters in the play include a numbers-obsessed
math teacher and DACA recipient, an
older man who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy
and an Indian-American immigration lawyer.
Sloan’s work is a reference to Sinclair Lewis’ novel
“It Can’t Happen Here” which follows the fictitious
election of a populist politician who instills fear in
a nation by promising a return to patriotism. But
although the classic has been referred to as the
book that predicted Trump by The New York Times,
Sloan claims that her latest piece is not about life
under President Trump.
Instead, “It Can Happen Here” is about colorful
people from different walks of life who are handling
societal and political tensions differently. Sloan said
that she indeed drew some inspiration for the play
from the great literary classic, but that she drew even
greater inspiration from her where the conversations
she had with Southeastern Queens residents. For
nine months Sloan talked with people about their
fears, resentments and hopes.
“What struck me over and over were stories of love
and support that often fly under the radar in times
of extreme duress, of neighbors being deported, of
families wondering about their survival, of artists want-ing
to dream,” said Sloan. She came across dozens
of stories of people co-existing and collaborating.
“Like the novel, ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ my play
is inspired by real events,” said Sloan.
Working on the play based and about residents in
the most ethnically diverse borough of the city has
28 SEPTEMBER 2018 I LIC COURIER I www.qns.com
kept Sloan in touch with her love of learning, listen-ing
and challenging others in the face of adversity.
Sloan describes her most recent play as a dark
comedy. Her other works include Crossing the BLVD
and 1001 Voices: Symphony for a New America. The
first is a 400-page book following the lives of new
immigrants and refugees in Queens. The second
is a multimedia orchestra and chorus performance,
also inspired by Queens residents’ stories, about
migration and the search for home.
Sloan love of her roots and the always changing
borough that raised. Her work combines humor and
and a love for the absurd as she places a mirror
against American social and political culture.
“It Can Happen Here” was commissioned by the
the Queens Council on the Arts’ (QCA) inaugural
Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) and was one
of four out of 100 applicants chosen for the award.
For more information about Judith Sloan’s work
visit www.earsay.org and for more information
about the ACP visit www.queenscouncilarts.org/