Ibsen’s ‘Enemy’ retains relevance in modern world

Reposted from Patrick Dunn at The Detroit News. Read the full article here.

Left to Right: Brandy Joe Plambeck and Brandon Grantz. Photo by Bruce Giffin

Left to Right: Brandy Joe Plambeck and Brandon Grantz. Photo by Bruce Giffin

Environmental political dramas may seem a relatively recent phenomenon, but Dr. Thomas Stockmann was a whistle-blower over a century before Erin Brockovich made it cool.

Stockmann is the protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play “An Enemy of the People,” which the Hilberry Theatre Company will perform in repertory beginning Friday. When Stockmann discovers that the popular public baths in his town are contaminated, he comes into conflict with his brother Peter, the town’s mayor. With a vested financial interest in keeping the baths open, Peter works to turn the local press — and the community at large — against Thomas.

Blair Anderson, director of the Hilberry production, says Ibsen has long been on his directorial “wish list” because the Norwegian playwright’s work still has “tremendous resonance to our contemporary society.” He says “Enemy” confronts the idea that majority rule is always best.

“There are times when the solitary voice is ignored,” Anderson says in an email exchange. “Whistle-blowers are ostracized as much today as they were in the 1880s. It may not be as shocking today as it was on the cusp of the 20th century, but if one does stop and think, it can still be upsetting to really see how political, economic and educational decisions are made today.”

Anderson observes that while Ibsen is most often noted for his controversial social commentaries, the truly memorable characters in his plays are often overlooked.

Read the full article here.

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

‘An Enemy of the People’

2 p.m. Feb. 21, Feb. 25 and March 28;

8 p.m. Feb. 20-21, Feb. 26-28 and March 26-28

Hilberry Theatre

4743 Cass Ave., Detroit

Tickets $10-$30

(313) 577-2972

wsushows.com

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