MAY 9th

An enemy of the people
Nina Nikolich

(N. Macedonia)

To say today that a dramatic lit- erature classic is currently trend- ing sounds a little basic. But, when we look at Henrik Ibsen’s play, An Enemy of the People (written in 1882), it is fascinat- ing how many common things we see between the society in which we live and the one that turns against Dr. Stockmann.

In the case, in this play, the ac- tualization, above all, implies a sharpening of the context from which we read the play, without special interventions in the text itself, which mostly remains in its original form. The drama perfectly corresponds to the crisis that our society is facing again — through the exclusion of Dr. Stockmann from the community, Ibsen skill – fully reveals social conformism and political selfishness, shows a mechanism by which every in- dividual who attempts to speak up about systemic injustice is automatically characterized as a traitor and conspirator.

At the same time, the doctor’s “suffering” is a consequence of his tendency to point to the problem of polluted water, which — in the light of local awareness of the importance of preserving the environment — makes Ib- sen’s play even more intriguing to read and stage. An Enemy of the People also rais- es an important dilemma in the current environmental struggles — how to treat something that, on the one hand is a source of pollution and contagion, and on the other, is the main (and often the only) source of income for the majority of the population in that area? Dr. Stockmann is the paradigm of the engaged modern man, but he is also an idealist who believes that change is pos- sible, and that immediate sacri- fice is necessary, no matter how painful. Perhaps at first unaware of the consequences and prob- lems that his uncompromising stance will bring him, despite the blows inflicted on him by society, led by the ruling political struc- ture and unstable journalists, Dr. Stockmann, through challenges and setbacks, matures and invig- orates, awakens and strengthens his ultimate goals. The main question here is how to read and interpret the end of the play in modern times. At a time when, often, the system man- ages to crush and knock down the individual, the challenge is to make Stockmann’s optimism and his decision to stay possible and convincing, but it is equally important to precisely define the (next) goal and to concretize the field for the further fight of this Ibsen’s hero.

– Tamara Barachkov, Playwright

Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Supported by Belgrade City Council and Ministry of Culture of Republic of Serbia.