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BWW Interview: Jeremy Folmer On His Journey With The Barrow Group and The World Premiere of ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

Longstanding member of The Barrow Group, Jeremy Folmer, returns to the stage this spring for the world premiere of Enemy of the People. This supportive and innovative company has staged thought-provoking productions since the mid-1980s, and continues to nurture local artists. From the first time Folmer saw a play with this group, he knew that he had found something special. Since that time in the late 1990's, Folmer has grown and flourished with The Barrow Group and is proud to have found a second home.

Adapted from Henrik Ibsen's classic tale, this important work examines democracy at its core, and leaves it up to audiences to develop their own point of view.

BroadwayWorld had the unique opportunity to chat with Folmer before the show's opening and discuss his history with The Barrow Group, the fundamentals of this classic play, and the power of a supportive community of artists.

What has it meant to you to be part of this production from the workshop phase to presenting it on the mainstage at TBG Theatre?

It has been absolutely fantastic! We did this play about six years ago -- a workshop production of it -- so we've seen cast members come and go, but it's nice to have some original members and some new actors in the current production. One of the characters in the play, who playEd Morton Kiil, sadly passed away - he was such a great actor and is greatly missed.

How did you first become involved with The Barrow Group?

A play (laughs)! I went to see a play in 1997 called The Rainmaker - it's a pretty stock production and The Barrow Group used to have this loft apartment space on 8th Avenue, and they did the play in the round. The audience sat on the edges of the theater and the actors played right in front of us and I was riveted - - I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching the production. I was so blown away that I went up to the cast members after the show and asked if I could go out to dinner with them! From then on, I started studying with The Barrow Group and doing lots of plays with them. I am so very lucky that this group became my second home.

It sounds like that openness has led to some very amazing adventures. What makes The Barrow Group's approach unique?

The Barrow Group is such a supportive community. The two artistic directors, Seth [Barrish] and Lee [Brock] - their approach is very empowering for an actor. They are super supportive and are really focused on helping an actor adjust their thought process so there doesn't have to be that dependency only on a director's notes. The actor can work in a free way that keeps the spontaneity alive within the scripted material. They are such wonderful people!

Can you describe some of your favorite memories over the years?

There are so many! The most recent production definitely stands out. We worked with John Yearley on The Unrepeatable Moment. It was amazing to have the author present during the production. There were 6 or 7 different short plays he wrote with a similar theme, and it was such a unique experience to work with the playwright and have them there with you during most of the process.

How do you think Enemy of the People will impact audiences?

I'm excited for the people who have seen its previous incarnation to come back and see how it's changed and I'm also excited because we are presenting it on the main stage - we did it a small black box last time. The production values are much higher, it's less of a workshop, and also I think the times that we are all living in right now politically will really make this production stand out. I think we have an opportunity with this play to relate to the audience in such a realistically topical manner. I think people will identify with what is going on in Norway in 1910 and what is going on today, and think that the audience will be charged by that.

What type of conversations do you think the play will spark?

The adaptation of this play is nice because it has more of a story theater essence to it. The actors are talking directly to the audience and that moves the story along. It has narration to it which makes it interesting.

I hope it engenders arguments for all sides, because I think what we've done with this play is make clear that nobody is wrong. We are trying to express that every point of view is a good point of view, and whether you agree with how it's going or not, is up to the individual. It's exciting to give audiences that power to decide and think it will continue to spark conversation long after the production is over.

For tickets and more info, visit: www.barrowgroup.org.

Photo Courtesy of The Barrow Group


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