An Enemy of the People
Ivana Karanfilovska Ugurovska
Translator of the play:
Maja Trajanoska - Ivanovska
Ana Arsovska/Lana Grpchevska
Aleksandar Mihajlovski/Grigor Jovanovski
Premiere 09 May 2022 Macedonian National Theatre Skopje
Duration: 105min without intermission
"ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE"
To say today that a classic of dramatic literature is relevant may sound cliché. However, when we look at Henrik Ibsen's play "Enemy of the People" (written in 1882), it is fascinating to see how many points of contact we find between the society we live in and the one that turns against Dr. Stockmann.
In this production, the updating primarily implies an emphasis on the context from which we read the drama, without specific interventions in the text itself, which mostly remains in its original form. The play perfectly corresponds with the crisis our society is facing once again—through the exclusion of Dr. Stockmann from the community, Ibsen skillfully exposes social conformism and political opportunism, showing the mechanism through which any individual who dares to speak out against systemic injustice is automatically labeled as a traitor and conspirator.
At the same time, the "suffering" of the doctor is a consequence of his striving to point out the problem of contaminated water, which—given the local awareness of the importance of preserving the environment—makes Ibsen's play even more intriguing for reading and staging.
"Enemy of the People" also opens an important dilemma in current environmental struggles—how to deal with something that is, on one hand, a source of pollution and contamination, but on the other hand, the main (often sole) source of income for the majority of the population in that area? Dr. Stockmann is a paradigm of the modern engaged man, but he is also an idealist who believes in the possibility of change and that sacrificing the present moment is necessary, regardless of how painful it may be. Perhaps initially unaware of the consequences and problems his uncompromising stance would bring him, despite the blows dealt by society, led by the ruling political structure and unstable journalists, Dr. Stockmann matures and strengthens through challenges and setbacks, becoming more aware of his ultimate goals.
A significant question is how to read and interpret the end of the play today. In a time when the system often manages to crush and overcome the individual, the challenge is to make Stockmann's optimism and decision to stay possible and convincing. However, it is equally important to precisely define the (next) goal and specify the field for the protagonist's future struggle in this Ibsenian hero.