KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo’s fall play focuses on themes of political corruption, suppression of the press, science denial, environmental destruction, and those who do and do not give in to popular opinion.
While it appears to cover current events, An Enemy of the People was written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in 1882. Director Dennis Henry sets the production in 1950s America, to make it even more relatable.
“It’s a really fascinating story of political manipulation and cover ups and science denial, and all sorts of things we see today,” said Henry. “The themes sound like they took place last week, and into our future.”
Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 10 and Friday, November 11, and 3 p.m. Saturday, November 12 in Havens Auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 general admission and $7 for students of all ages, cash only.
The play takes place in a small town that has recently turned its fortunes around by building therapeutic hot spring that draw in tourists — but some of the tourists have become sick. Dr. Thomas Stockmann discovers the water is being contaminated by runoff from local factories, and the town council’s failure to place the pipes properly. When his brother, the mayor, discovers it will cost millions of dollars to fix it, he asks the doctor to retract his statement. When Stockmann refuses, the mayor turns the local newspaper and townspeople against him, labeling him an enemy of the people.
“We’re in such a tense political time, with so much going on,” Henry said. “It’s encouraging to see it’s not new, and that this kind of thing has been going on for such a long time. The words and phrases they use sound like it’s from a newspaper today.”
Seventeen students are in the cast along with two stage managers.
Junior Clarissa Vazquez said the play is thought-provoking, both for performers and audience.
“I think the audience will appreciate that it makes you think, and it challenges you,” she said. “I think that’s important, because it allows people to reflect on their own opinions and ideas.”
Senior Rebecca Harris said the topics are relatable, which will help those attending connect with it.
“It’s nice how it’s applicable to today, even though it was written more than 100 years ago,” she said. “You can still relate to what’s happening.”
Junior Dezi Dagey noted that while the topic is controversial, the play balances that with light moments.
“I think people will appreciate the bluntness of this show, and the humor behind it,” she said.