Students reinvent “An Enemy of the People” play

“An Enemy of the People” is a play written in 1882 by Henrik Ibsen and just wrapped up production here at Pierce College Puyallup last week. This version of the play was directed by Dr. Joshua Potter-Dineen and Professor Samuel Sloan.

It featured some new faces in Andrew Burden, Morgan Thomas, Amari Banks and Khuong Quoc Ho; those that frequent campus productions would be able to recognize returning performers James Joy, Steven Mazel and Lindsey Pasquier. Actor Steven Mazel spoke on the difficulty of the translation of the script.

“There were so many tongue twisters – a lot of us had trouble with the words at first. ” Mazel says.

The play follows Dr. Thomas Stockman and his uncovering of a horrible secret. The story begins in a small town in southern Norway that generates its capital from a spa where Dr. Stockman is the medical officer. Things getv complicated when Dr. Stockman learns that the spa water is actually poisoned. Dr. Stockman must spread the news about his discovery; in doing so, he creates a backlash from the townsfolk and the mayor, who happens to be his brother. A fight begins over whether funds should be spent to fix the springs and have it closed for two years, or continue to make money regardless of how it affects tourists.

It was mentioned before the show that Dr. Potter-Dineen and Sloan added some modern elements to the play, so the time period is different, but the settings are the same. The use of phone calls between characters and live news broadcast made the play feel fresh and unique. The set for the play was well utilized for the small space actors had to work with.

The acting and directing were well done in spite of a few hiccups; I can recall one instance where an actor completely forgot their line and it was quiet for a few seconds. I heard a few mumbles in the audience once the scene was continued by another actor – it was obvious and the crowd definitely noticed as well. Aside from occasional missteps like that, the acting was spot on. I could see all of the hard work that was put into making this a good play.

The overall interpretation of the play was modernistic and I think it was just what the play needed to keep the audience engaged in this day and age.

There’s also an interactive portion in the play. When intermission started, the actors handed out ballots and audience members could vote on who they believed was right: Dr. Stockman or the mayor. I think this added a lot to the overall experience of the play and it was a wonderful way to encourage audience interaction.

The story provides an interesting argument that weighs the pros and cons on both sides of the problem. With the Nov. 6 elections, this play is all the more topical. The invested acting never detracted from the flow of the story.

The directing was a personal injection into the plot of the play and utilized the time period change to its full potential.

Students should check out future plays on the campus. There’s a lot of love and care poured into these projects, and they need to be seen.

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Victor Filion

Students reinvent “An Enemy of the People” play

by Victor Filion time to read: 2 min