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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Overture to present play for the ‘People’

Murky, dangerous waters stir controversy and create a dangerous mob of people. Democracy is in jeopardy as the characters in “An Enemy of the People” challenge the pressing values of truth and moral fiber.

The Badger Herald recently spoke with director Peter Meineck, founder of the Aquila Theatre in New York City, about the central themes of “An Enemy of the People.” Meineck said “An Enemy of the People” carries a pressing message to society.

“[The play] makes people realize we have to be active members of democracy. You have to become your own thinking, feeling person or else [democracy] doesn’t work,” Meineck said of his lucrative, thought-provoking play.

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Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play takes place in a small town in Norway. Dr. Stockmann, the medical officer of the recently built spa in town, makes a shocking discovery that the water in the medicinal baths is contaminated. Before anyone can get hurt, Dr. Stockman believes it is his moral obligation to society to notify the townspeople of the dire discovery. However, he faces adversity when the mayor, his brother, refuses to inform the townspeople about the impure water. Frustrated and furious, the doctor refuses to accept the lack of morality and tries to overcome familial and societal resistance.

“He is left on his own and forced to call a public meeting. [The next day] his windows are smashed, he is known as a whistleblower and is declared an enemy of the people,” Meineck said.

“An Enemy of the People” is said to have inspired Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.” Both plotlines consist of one man’s obstacle to serve society, but the protagonists are hindered due to ill-driven motives. The central theme is shared in both stories with the emphasis on how the dangerous dynamics of masses threaten the value of truth.

As the play suggests, educating oneself is the best weapon for a society influenced by deception. The play’s compelling message that it is the responsibility of the individual to seek the truth and not be swayed by the masses will lure in strong-willed viewers.

“We are in this place right now [where] people take on entrenched views and don’t think for themselves. It is very dangerous,” Meineck said. “I hope people see this play and want to be more politically active, have more of a voice and be informed and part of a community. You should be engaged, moved and have a debate on the way home.”

Taking the play’s message to heart, the Aquila Theatre Production Company strives to produce an eco-friendly show.

“The industry is not green at all. We wanted to try to green our production,” Meineck said. “We used secondhand floor models, used clothing and rebuilt things from wood. Everything was recycled of a good quality. You can find all this stuff that is just sitting around.”

Meineck was content that the production crew was 75 percent more efficient and used a lot less electricity and said it was the little things that made the difference.

While the production crew makes vigorous efforts to conserve, the actors don’t hold back. Various actors come from The Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre, Broadway, West Bend, films and television.

“It is fun to be a director and [see the] actors bring [the play] to life. [It] surpassed my expectations,” Meineck said. “You are going to see some of the finest acting in the world. It is a classic play. It is a great night out. A great date.”

If the acting and conservation efforts are not admirable enough to entice viewers to attend the performance, the message it sends will. The storyline raises awareness of the threats society faces when individuals do not take responsibility to sift through pertinent material.

Individuals that heed the message of “An Enemy of the People,” will realize that standing up for democracy and truth is worth the hostility, even if one must stand on their own. As Dr. Stockmann says, “The strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone.”

The Aquila Theatre Company presents “An Enemy of the People” running from Thursday, March 18-Sunday, March 28 in The Playhouse Theatre at the Overture Center. Tickets can be purchased at the Overture Center for $26-$36 or $20 with a valid student ID.

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