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2012 Summer Reading: 'An Enemy of the People'

Release date: August 26, 2012

Goucher College will present Kwame Kwei-Armah, the artistic director of Baltimore's Center Stage and director of An Enemy of the People, in conjunction with this year's summer reading discussion and presentation.  

Goucher's first-year and transfer students will receive copies of An Enemy of the People at Summer Orientation or via mail so they can discuss issues and ideas brought up in the play in small groups during Fall Orientation. Following the group discussions, students will attend a presentation and discussion led by Kwei-Armah on Sunday, August 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hyman Forum of the Athenaeum. Students additionally are invited to attend an evening dress rehearsal of the play on Tuesday, September 18.

In the 1950 version of An Enemy of the People, prominent American playwright Arthur Miller adapted and Americanized the original five-act stage drama written by Henrik Ibsen in 1882.

The play's protagonist, Dr. Stockmann, attempts to expose a water pollution scandal in his hometown, which is about to establish itself as a spa resort. When his brother, the mayor, conspires with local politicians and the newspaper to suppress the story, Stockmann appeals to the public at a meeting-only to be shouted down and reviled as "an enemy of the people."

The premise of the work is simple: Does the majority rule even when it is proven that they are wrong? The play is a penetrating exploration of what happens when the truth comes up against the will of the majority and an indictment of a society that will throttle its own interests to adamantly support the interests of the rich and powerful few.