Theatricum Botanicum Presents New Version of Henrik Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum continues its mission to resist and struggle against the forces of inequality and injustice by presenting socially conscious classics that speak to today. A new version of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, freely adapted by artistic director Ellen Geer and co-directed by Geer and Melora Marshall, joins Theatricum's 2019 summer repertory season beginning Saturday, June 22. Performances will continue on Theatricum's beautiful outdoor stage in Topanga through Sept. 28.When the water in a popular tourist spa at the heart of a local town's economy is discovered to be contaminated, powerful people have to decide whether to put the health of visitors above the town's commercial interests. Geer's adaptation resets the play in the small town of South Fork, South Carolina in the 1980s, where issues of race serve to further compound the economic concerns at stake. "Bringing the great classics alive for our audiences by highlighting their relevance to the times we live in has always been our mission at Theatricum," says Geer. "Ibsen is considered the father of modern drama, and his canon of plays is as pertinent today as when he wrote them in the 1800s." Ibsen initially wrote the play in response to the public outcry against his previous play, Ghosts, which challenged the hypocrisy of 19th-century morality. According to Ellen Mortensen (Ibsen Studies v.7, 169), the words "scandalous," "degenerate" and "immoral" were hurled at both Ghosts and its author because it openly discussed adultery and syphilis. Therefore, An Enemy of the People tells the story of a man who dares to speak an unpalatable truth - and is punished for it. Whistleblower Dr. Thomas Stockman has discovered that the town baths, which keep the town economically afloat, are polluted. Conflict arises when the town mayor, Stockman's brother (his sister, in Geer's adaptation), wants to suppress Thomas' discovery from the public. The Theatricum production stars company members Christopher W. Jones as Dr. Tom Stockman, Earnestine Phillips as his wife, Katherine, and Katherine Griffith as Tom's sister, Mayor Mildred Stockman. Max Lawrence plays Horatio, editor of the South Fork People's Voice newspaper, and Terrence Wayne, Jr. is his assistant editor, Gerald.Constance Jewell Lopez portrays Katherine's daughter, Patience, while Gerald C. Rivers plays Katherine's father, Cornell. Steven C. Fisher is Captain Billings, in love with Patience, and Jeff Wiesen is Alan Phillips, head of the South Fork homeowners' association. The ensemble also includes Ken Ivy and Joseph Iwunze as Tom and Katherine's young sons; Joelle Lewis as young Joey; and Matthew Pardue and Connor Clark Pascale alternating as Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke. Garrett Botts, Matthew Domenico, Bill Durham, Colin Guthrie, Margaret Kelly, Ruth Smitherman, Jack Tavcar and Anna Telfer portray the townspeople of South Fork. The creative team includes costume designer Beth Eslick, lighting designer Zach Moore, sound designer Grant Escandón and prop master Sydney Russell. Elna Kordijan is the production stage manager. The production will perform in repertory on the main stage with currently running productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Orson Welles' Moby Dick-Rehearsed, adapted from the novel by Herman Melville, joins the season beginning June 8, and Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Skin of Our Teeth kicks off on July 13. All five productions will continue to play in repertory through Sept. 29. A sixth production will open Aug. 17 on the smaller stage in the theater's intimate S. Mark Taper Pavilion: The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn - another Pulitzer Prize winner - will star long-time Theatricum company members and real life husband-and-wife team Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James in a co-production with the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Unlike most theaters in the L.A. area that stage continuous runs of a single play, Theatricum, using a company of actors, will perform each of the plays in repertory, making it possible to see all six plays in a single summer weekend. An Enemy of the People opens on Saturday, June 22 at 8 p.m. and continues through Sept. 28. Tickets range from $10 - $42; children 4 and under are free. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.