SUMMARY: Enemy of the People

Two Chicago theaters, A Red Orchid in February and the Goodman in March, are offering their adaptations of 19th century Norwegian Playwright Henrik Ibsen’s play, ‘Enemy of the People,’ which focuses on several of today’s hottest issues: politics and the business v environment debate with a nod to the Trump presidency and the Flint, Michigan, and East Chicago, Indiana, lead contamination problems.

The play takes place in a small town in Norway. The town has been beset by economic problems, but it has recently built a public health spa using water from a spring that originates in an area where a factory has closed down. A doctor, Tom Stockton, discovers that the spa is contaminated with harmful bacteria and asks his brother, the Mayor, to close the spa until it can be remediated. The brother refuses, claiming that to do so will send the town into economic ruin. By threatening the newspaper editor and the Town Council with the demise of the town if news of the spa’s contamination gets out, the Mayor is able to keep the problem a secret. In the end, Tom, ostracized by the town, is declared an ‘enemy of the people.’ He has ruined his family and, refusing to leave town, he vows to fight on, ALONE.

Ibsen is said to have written this play as a revenge for the poor reception he received for his play, ‘Ghosts,’ which is about syphilis.

For a discussion of the theme, see my blog for March 14. For a summary of the play, see my blog for March 13. For a report on a discussion between Brett Neveu, playwright for A Red Orchid's "Traitor," and Robert Falls, playwright for Goodman's "Enemy." see my blog for March 13.

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also traveled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For 10 years my husband and I traveled to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. I've joined a tour to Central Asia and traveled to China to work with the pandas. Two years ago, I returned to Europe--Inreland, England, and France--to present a paper at a Conference and then visit friends. It's 2017 now and London once again draws me in. This time I'm fulfilling my dream of taking my grandchildren to Europe. I've rented a flat near Hyde Park and ordered London passes for everyone. A new adventure. Old friends. Another banquet.

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