An Enemy of the People

Discussion Forum

October 18, 2019

On October 18 at 7:30pm in Inspiration Hall (Norm Asbjornson Hall, MSU), come join our discussion forum and presentations related to An Enemy of the People, a play by Henrik Ibsen that will be performed by Bozeman Actors Theatre from October 10-19.

Enemy of the People is a play about the integrity of science, the hypocrisy of citizens when they face economic concerns, and the breakdown of civil discourse. The issues raised by this play in 1883, which was adapted by Arthur Miller in 1950, are even more urgent in 2019.

Funding from an MSU grant for support of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) is making possible an Interdisciplinary Forum for a sustained dialog about the crucial issues raised by science-themed plays such as Enemy of the People. We seek to provide a place for learning and engagement that can result in broadening knowledge and perspectives. To that end, we endeavor to include a wide cross-section of people in different disciplines across campus as well as citizens of our community.

This evening’s events include poster presentations of research by undergraduate and graduate students, a short documentary film about this production of Enemy of the People, a performance of selected scenes from the play, and a panel discussion featuring faculty members from the College of Letters and Science.  

Discussion FOrum Order of Events

7:30 – 8:00 pm: Poster Session; talk with student researchers

8:00 – 8:20 pm: Making Friends with Enemy Film Screening

8:20 – 8:50 pm: BAT actors re-enact key themes from An Enemy of the People

8:50 – 9:30 pm: Panel Discussion

9:30 – 10:00 pm: M&M (Meet and Mingle)

Inspiration Hall, Norm Asbjornson Building, MSU Campus

Inspiration Hall, Norm Asbjornson Building, MSU Campus

Panelists for Discussion Forum:

Gordon Carpenter: Artistic Director, Bozeman Actors Theatre

Margaret Eggers: Research Scientist, Microbiology & Immunology,Center for Biofilm Engineering

Kristen Inteman: Professor, History & Philosophy

Paul Lachapelle: Political Science MSU, Policy Analyst, Climate Change

Gretchen Minton (moderator): Professor, Literature and Drama

Beth Shirley: Assistant Professor of English, Science and Rural Communication

Links to related subjects

Panelist Paul Lachapelle was recently interviewed by Yellowstone Public Radio about the climate change curriculum he developed for school children. Click here to listen to this 13.5 minute audio from YPR.

About the play….

by Henrik Ibsen,Arthur Miller adaptation, performed by Bozeman Actors Theatre

October 10, 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 2019

A brief description:

A small Norwegian town has just begun to win fame and wealth through its medicinal spring waters. Dr. Stockman, resident physician, discovers that the waters are polluted. On receiving proof of this, he immediately reports on his findings, but is shocked to find that instead of being thanked, he is looked upon as a dangerous crank, motivated by a desire to prove that his fellow townsmen are wrong, and to bring financial ruin upon them. The press will not report his findings, officials refuse to give him a hearing. He loses his position and the townspeople boycott him, as every weapon of blackmail, slander, and eviction are brought against his family.

One of the world’s most famous playwrights, Ibsen wrote Enemy of the People as a challenge to the hypocrisy that reigned in late-19th-century Europe. Important themes Ibsen wrote into this play include the integrity of science, honesty and truthfulness, ethics of politics, and manipulation of an electorate—all issues that are very much with us today,.

BAT is using an Arthur Miller adaptation of Enemy of the People for this production. Miller wrote his adaptation in 1950, during the height of McCarthyism. While Miller was strongly influenced by Ibsen’s plays, he was especially intrigued by Enemy’s portrait of the suppression of free speech.

In BAT’s production of Enemy of the People we present an adaptation that balances conflicting ideologies to the point where one cannot comfortably take sides. The two main protagonists are siblings: Eva Stockman is the mayor of the town, Dr. Thomas Stockman is the leading doctor. They both present challenges to the viewer so that by the end of the play one is not certain who is right, who is wrong, creating perfect opportunities for dialogue.