An Enemy of the People
09.02.2018 - 10.02.2018 | 19:30 | Wiener Burgtheater
An Enemy of the People (original Norwegian title: En folkefiende) is an 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen wrote it in response to the public outcry against his play Ghosts, which at that time was considered scandalous. Ghosts had challenged the hypocrisy of Victorian morality and was deemed indecent for its veiled references to syphilis.
Upon completion of the play, Ibsen wrote to his publisher in Copenhagen, Denmark: `I am still uncertain as to whether I should call it a comedy or a straight drama. It may [have] many traits of comedy, but it also is based on a serious idea.
n Dr. Stockmann`s household, Mrs. Stockmann is entertaining dinner guests. As the evening progresses, Dr. Stockmann`s brother Peter (the mayor) and Hovstad (the editor of the newspaper) arrive at the house. Dr. Stockmann and his two sons Ejlif and Morten return from a walk. As they all gather in the house, the Mayor needs to confront his brother about an article regarding the town health baths and the rumors that have been raised about them being contaminated. The brothers argue about their positions on hiding the truth and shaping the truth to get the results that are convenient. Dr. Stockmann`s daughter Petra brings in a letter for which her father has been waiting. After Dr. Stockmann reads the letter, he discovers his suspicions were right and the water from the baths is in fact contaminated. Hovstad agrees to print the article and unfold the story. This will bring a great deal of attention to the baths and possibly will be the end of them (which will have repercussions on the town`s economy). Dr. Stockmann is overwhelmed with all that has happened and quickly believes he is the savior of the town.
The next morning in Dr. Stockmann`s house, Mrs. Stockmann tells her husband that his brother Peter will stop by to talk about the baths. Morten Kiil, Dr. Stockmann`s father-in-law, stops by the house to congratulate him on what Kiil believes is an elaborate prank. Kiil believes that notion that the baths are tainted is too ridiculous to be believed, and certainly not by the mayor. Hovstad and the printer Aslaksen visit the house as well to reinforce their commitment to the doctor and extend their gratitude. The new alliance between the newspaper and Dr. Stockmann has a deeper interest than just the baths. The newspaper wants to confront the government of the town and expose the corruption that happens behind closed doors, and this opportunity is a way to start.
Peter (the mayor) enters the house, and everything becomes tense. Peter tells Dr. Stockmann that if he proceeds with this article and exposes this information to the town, he will be partially culpable for the ruin of the town. Peter accuses Dr. Stockmann of being selfish and not thinking of the bigger picture. He encourages Dr. Stockmann to retract himself from this article and to solve this problem in a more quiet way. Dr. Stockmann refuses his brother`s propositions. Peter reiterates that there will be terrible consequences for him and his family.
In the newspaper office, Hovstad and Billing discuss the pros and cons of running Dr. Stockmann`s article which damages the reputation of the government of the town. They are ready to proceed and help bring the privileged classes down. Dr. Stockmann comes into the office and tells them to print the article, but at this moment the whole office has a change of heart and are questioning how valuable is it really to expose the government and the town`s baths in this way. They are realizing that printing this article will do more damage than help with the situation. Instead, the newspaper is now on the side of the mayor, and has decided to print a statement of him talking about the baths and how good they are. Out of desperation, Dr. Stockmann decides that he does not need the paper to print anything and that he can fight this battle on his own. He decides to call a town meeting and spread the information that way. Mrs. Stockmann is present during all of this, and although she knows that her husband is making an extreme decision and is risking his reputation, she stands by him.
At the town meeting in Captain Horster`s house, Dr. Stockmann is about to read his water report to the townspeople. Billing, the family, the mayor, Aslaksen, and Hovstad are there. Aslaksen is elected the chair of the meeting to serve as a mediator. Aslaksen attempts to sabotage Dr. Stockmann and stop him from communicating the report. When Dr. Stockmann finally gets a chance to speak, he talks about the contamination of the water, and he also criticizes the town leaders and how they are the ones who possessed knowledge of the problem. Dr. Stockmann talks to the town about education and corruption too. The town feels insulted by these accusations and anger starts growing in the room. By the end of the meeting the town has rebelled as a mob against Dr. Stockmann and have marked him as an enemy of the people. Dr. Stockmann is exiled from the town.
The next morning, Dr. Stockmann`s study is shown, badly damaged. The windows of the house have been smashed. The town has turned against the family, and no one they know will help them. The landlord is evicting them from their house, and Petra has been fired from school for having progressive opinions. Peter comes to the house to present Dr. Stockmann with a letter from the board of directors of the baths, terminating his contract, and a resolution from the householders association stating that no one should hire Dr. Stockmann in this town again.
Also, Morten Kiil just bought an interest in the bath business. He expects that because his tannery is causing all the contamination, his son-in-law Dr. Stockmann will reduce his opposition because now his family`s money is also at jeopardy if he continues this battle. Dr. Stockmann refuses Morten Kiil`s suggestions, and also ignores Peter`s advice of leaving town for a few months. Dr. Stockmann has alienated everyone but stays true to his principles, even though he has become alienated. Knowing that his family will remain by his side, Dr. Stockmann decides to accepts the circumstances and his role as `the enemy of the people` if that is what it takes to do what is right.
An Enemy of the People (original Norwegian title: En folkefiende) is an 1882 play by Norwegian playwright >> Read more
The Burgtheater (en: (Imperial) Court Theatre), originally known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, then until 1918 as the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world.The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as `die Burg` by the Viennese population;its theatre company of more or less regular members has created a traditional style and speech typical of Burgtheater performances.