An Idea Is Born
It was quickly removed and replaced with a slightly different version:
This declaration was reinforced at a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 24, 2017, in which the president said, “A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people.”**
For me, this use of the phrase, “enemy of the people,” immediately called to mind Henrik Ibsen’s play, An Enemy of the People. I first read this play when I was in high school, and it had a tremendous impact on me. So much so that it has always been at the top of my list of plays I would like to direct. But in this instance – reflecting on the resurrection of this phrase with all its fraught history*** – it seemed like the insights that Ibsen revealed in his 19th century work of theatrical fiction were just as relevant today, in light of real 21st century events, as they were then. That is when the idea was born, to bring this play to as many people as possible in a way that would help us understand what we are doing and find a better way to move forward.
The play is not propaganda, but an examination of the human character, society and morality when faced with political truths that are inconvenient. It addresses these issues head on and forcefully, and, like the world we are living in now, it’s messy, with twists and turns, and doesn’t give any easy answers. But it’s a place to start the conversation.
We are starting with one staged reading in Durham, NC, on November 8, 2017. We invite anyone who would like to participate to mount their own readings on the same date. We chose a staged reading because it is simpler to produce (no sets, blocking or memorization required) and will make it easier for more people to participate. We hope that the idea will grow into lots of readings in cities and towns across the country and beyond. Each production will be the work of the artists who produce it so they can make it their own, artistically. If you are interested in having your own reading, please check out our Production Resources page and sign up today! We would love to have you join us.
Which Side Are You On?
And now, to answer a question that is probably foremost in your mind, “Which side are you on?” You may be thinking, “These folks sound liberal and anti-Trump,” which for some means, “I’m in!” and for others means, “See ya!”
The simple answer, is that this project is not about choosing a side and bashing the other side, it’s about understanding what we are doing and why we are doing it – actually trying to see what is motivating us and taking a good look at whether or not what we are doing is truly for the greater good or just our personal good.
Things, of course, are not that simple. We all have our opinions and beliefs, and they affect what we do and how we do it. But that’s what art is all about. Bringing our beliefs to the table, as well as our open minds and our willingness to learn and grow.
That’s how we’d like you to approach this project as well. Come to a performance on November 8, and challenge yourself to open your mind and reflect on how we have arrived at this moment in history and how we can find our way forward to a better and less divided future. If we have any hope of a good, just and peaceful future, we need to find a way to understand each other better.
In the spirit of full disclosure, and speaking only for myself as the organizer and originator of this project, I am a Democrat; I marched in the Women’s March in Washington, DC and the March for Science in Raleigh, NC; I am opposed to the president’s agenda and do not believe that he is acting in the best interest of the people of our country or our democratic government. Having said that, I have dear friends and family, who I know to be good, kind and honorable people, who fully support the president, what they believe he represents, and what they hope he will accomplish. I don’t really understand their point of view, and I’m pretty sure they don’t understand mine, but I’d like to use this play as a starting point to open that conversation. – Kim DeCoste
Let’s Experience This Together
We hope you will join us on November 8, 2017 to learn, enjoy, experience and do a little thinking as we express our artistic and political freedom at theaters across United States and beyond. To find a performance of “An Enemy of the People” near you, check our List of Performances page.