Themed “IbssenFest,” this year’s festival will feature the works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Providence theatre instructor and director Marc Moir is looking forward to staging a play he says is as timely today as when it was first written.
“We start out thinking everything is black and white and quickly realize that the situation in this story, like many situations in real life, quickly becomes complex and grey,” he says. “I hope An Enemy of the People spawns many interesting conversations among audience members, as it has among the cast.”
Written in 1882, Ibsen’s play tells the story of a medical official who discovers contaminated water at a tourist spa in his hometown. What follows is a dark, multi-themed political drama in which audience allegiance wavers and questions are asked of truth and power. And, given contemporary political realities such as the Donald Trump presidency in the United States and Brexit in the United Kingdom, it is enjoying both renewed popularity and creative adaptations.
“What started as a response to a Trump presidency now seems to speak to our times in many ways,” mulled one review in The New York Times, “with a plot that intertwines an ethically compromised antihero, political extremism, corruption, environmental activism and a lack of accountability for the destruction of a town.”
Moir points out that his own adaptation of An Enemy of the People is brought forward into the present, with modern dress and speech. His protagonist, Dr. Stockmann, is also played by a woman.
“It is a play that should feel like real life,” he explains. “A good play should first and foremost entertain—and An Enemy of the People will do that—but it should also make us feel and think…This is a very thought-provoking play.”
Laura Moir (Marc’s sister-in-law), who starred in last year’s full-length production at Providence, The Mousetrap, plays Dr. Stockmann this time around, and fellow Providence students Julia Goertzen, Noble Okonkwo, Naaman Sturrup and Rachel Wiebe will also exhibit their acting talents next month in Winnipeg. Additionally, Mix 96 radio host Kenton Dyck will have a role in the play, as will Jon Ted Wynne, who studied acting at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and has more than 40 film and television credits.
Emilie Bartel, Alex Loewen, Sean Bucholz, Sophie Moir (Marc’s daughter) and Moir, himself, fill out the cast.
“I am so excited to take this play to Winnipeg,” says Moir. “Having a built-in audience—the Master Playwright Festival sees 10,000-12,000 people attend—will be huge and provide opportunities to promote Providence and the wonderful, developing talent we have here.”
Tickets can be purchased online at brownpapertickets.com or at the door (cash only).
Moir concludes: “It’s always good for us, as artists, as an institution and as Christians, to be part of the larger community and conversations.”
(Photo: Jon Ted Wynne, Julia Goertzen, Laura Moir and Marc Moir on the set of The Mousetrap.)