Ethics Pitted Against Economics
by Cate Murway
“The shortest distance between two people is a well-told story” – Keith Baker, BRT’s Artistic Director
‘An Enemy of the People’, universally acknowledged as a masterpiece, was written by Henrik Johan Ibsen, a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He has been referred to as "the father of realism" and is one of the founders of Modernism in theatre.
There is something timeless about this fast paced, action packed, and even funny story and it is now more relevant than ever. The cast is prepared to have the timeless plot of potentially catastrophic conditions of a town’s main industry resonate in a most visceral way. The play shines a very harsh light on what can turn messy when economic issues are exposed to the extent that individual desires and beliefs are compromised in a hostile environment, proving that an individual can be ostracized by the very society he is trying to help. The blame of all society's woes is placed on the power of the ignorant majority, who keep freethinking, intelligent people from revealing the truth.
The strongest is often the one who stands alone. The unwavering quest to do right is at odds with the interests of the community, but one person's bravery and self-respect can survive despite these overwhelming odds.
The term whistleblower is laden with unmerited negative connotations of greed, spite, narcissism and disloyalty. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Whistleblowers are usually highly principled individuals with an undying loyalty to the truth and public welfare, often at great personal cost.
If you let it, this play will really make you think.
Since 1986, the Bristol Riverside Theatre, a professional regional theatre located in historic Bristol on the Delaware, has brought consistently acclaimed professional theater to Bucks County and maintained a long-term commitment to finding and developing new plays.
Renowned veteran actor, Keith Baker portrays the aging, scheming father- in- law, Morton Kiil in ‘An Enemy of the People’. Kiil owns the tanning industry implicated in the idealistic [Kevin Bergen] Dr. Thomas Stockmann’s, who is either a naïve fool or a brave soldier of truth, water pollution report that states the tanner chemicals are running off into the baths. Barrymore Award Director, Keith hadn’t been on the BRT stage for awhile. Co- director, Susan D. Atkinson asked him to take the role.
“The play is long, arduous and complex. They found waters in the baths of a Norwegian town were being destroyed by industries. People came for healing and instead became deathly ill, so they were living off people getting sick. This took place in 1882 when the world just learned about germs, but bacteria cannot be seen.” Keith is a master in this beyond brilliant production.
Running time: 2 hours and 45 minutes (including a 15 minute intermission)
Community collaboration prevails as the BRT defines the cast comprised of an ensemble of professional actors, including Keith Baker, Kevin Bergen, Mark Collmer, Brian Drillinger, Laura Giknis, Marc LeVasseur, Shamus Hunter McCarty, P. Brendan Mulvey and Sabrina Profitt; all performing right alongside the Bucks County resident members.
“People want to participate in the creative process, not just be passive audience members,” Founding Director, Susan has been quoted.
Community ensemble members, working as actors, dramaturges, and documentarians, include Charles Acosta, Donovan Adams, Dallas Andrews, Rocco Angelastro, Kelly Armstrong, Richard Blanck, Joshua Boruch, Faith Brachelli, David Owen Cashell, Steven Ciceron, Anthony Daniels, Pam Dickler, Lauren Esser, Nathan Esser, Nolah Flynn, Camille Foster-Swartley, Miriam Foster-Swartley, Susan Garner, Regina Gluhoski, Scott Harris, Tim Irvine, Stan Karuzis, Baird Kline, Matt Lydon, Dasha Mamantova, John Means, Lloyd Miller, Denise Northrop-Smith, Richard Pine, Rachel Sydney, Michelle Tobin, Rebekah Weagraff, Sharon Wilhelm, Betty Wilson, Lyn Yetto, Julianna Zannikos, Margie Zielinski, and Neal Zoren.
5th grade Snyder-Girotti student, Dallas Ryan Andrews plays the “bully”, with no real name for that character. “In the play I get into a fight and I jump down the stairs. I have to wear knickers and a sweater and dress shoes.” The future actor’s favorite subject is science and he participates in the science club after school. His two brothers, Liam Nolan , “Dallas did a really good job in the play” and Fender Vaughn  do not at this time share his theatre passion.
“I always wanted to be an actor when I grow up. I tried it in the BRT summer camp ARTrageous.”
His dad, Lathan Nolan suggested to him that he get into a play to pursue his aspiration and his mom, Melissa Lynn “Missy” gave him the information necessary to audition. “Everyone thinks my parents are really nice people and I want to be just like them when I grow up.”
The co-director, Amy Kaissar, former Managing Director of the BRT [2009-2014], is thrilled to be back again, in her new role.
“Phenomenal play, one of the great classics! The project involves community members, some of whom who have never been in a play in their lives. They’re on stage in a professional production and I couldn’t be prouder of what they are doing.” Amy feels that the play written in 1882 is time congruent regarding current issues with a democracy and capitalism collide. This polemical work is just as edgy today as it was when it first hit the stage. “It’s about blowing the whistle on something you think is wrong and not getting the response expected.” The Doctor is betrayed. He doesn't need to travel a great distance to come to great revelations. He manages it right in his hometown.
Perhaps Dr. Stockmann comes to realize that the real pollution around him isn't necessarily the bacteria-ridden water; instead it's the ignorant masses who view him as a heretic and a rebel.
'An Enemy of the People’ also corrals the creative team of Set Designer Jason Simms, Costume Designer Gina Andreoli, Lighting Designer Deborah Constantine, and Sound Designer Bradlee Ward.
The BRT does not have a formal shop, so period costumes are rented and borrowed. Former Villa Joseph Marie ‘Fine Arts’ and ‘Aesthetics of Film’ teacher, Gina Marie Andreoli, is an extremely talented independent filmmaker with a driven focus geared toward directing, producing and costume design. Gina acquired the necessary Victorian era pieces and fitted 32 community members who were ‘double- casted’. “I enjoyed getting to know the people who were acting for the first time. They could develop their part somewhat through their clothing.” Gina attended all rehearsals and previews before the dresser took over. She had previously assisted in the wardrobes for the BRT production of “Ragtime”. That particular work of historical fiction was set mainly in NYC in the years from the early 1900s until the USA entry into World War I in 1917. “I love classic theatre!”
Previews began last Tuesday, with opening night on Thursday, May 14. ‘An Enemy of the People’ performances run Tuesday through Sunday until May 31. Tickets start at $31, with discounts for students, groups and military personnel. Tickets are available by visiting brtstage.org or calling the BRT Box Office at 215.785.0100.
Now in its 28th season, the BRT has grown to produce over 200 performances every year, including five mainstage productions, six presented events, a summer musical series, a play reading series, winter musicale and summer camp every year. BRT has produced 135 works, premiered 23 plays and musicals, and developed international touring and producing relationships.
Bristol Riverside Theatre
120 Radcliffe Street
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