Norwegian Director Helms D.C. Enemy of the People, Opening Sept. 5 | Playbill

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News Norwegian Director Helms D.C. Enemy of the People, Opening Sept. 5 The Shakespeare Theatre Company opens its 2006-07 season Sept. 5 with Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, translated by Rick Davis and Brian Johnston and directed by Norway's Kjetil Bang-Hansen.

The resident Washington, D.C. production began previews Aug. 29 and continues to Oct. 22.

A major work about social responsibility, the play was written following Ibsen's experiences with censorship, according to Shakespeare Theatre Company notes. "An Enemy of the People depicts how society often deliberately and ruthlessly ostracizes its truth-tellers," according to the Equity troupe.

Making his Shakespeare Theatre Company debut, Joseph Urla plays Dr. Stockmann, medical officer to his town's tourist baths. When he discovers that the baths are contaminated with fatal bacteria, he awaits praise from his neighbors, but is denounced by the mayor, the media and the citizenry as an enemy of the people. After all, there are tourist dollars at stake.

The cast includes Caitlin O'Connell, Rick Foucheux, Robin Gammell, Philip Goodwin, Derek Lucci, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson, Peter Rini, Samantha Soule and Nick Vienna.

"I would describe it as a kind of tragic comedy, a great piece of irony," said Bang-Hansen, in notes. "It is more of a political play than a psychological play, about how a democratic society can suddenly turn around and be vicious, how idealism can hide a desire for power. At the end of the play, Dr. Stockmann has lost everything, and he says, 'The strongest man in the world is the one who stands most alone,' which is a lie, a complete lie. This is not a story about John Wayne riding alone into the sunset. The terrible irony of the play is that he's lost everything, and the water is still as contaminated as before. It still goes on and on and on." Kjetil Bang-Hansen makes his Shakespeare Theatre Company directing debut with the classic. He has directed more than 100 productions of classic and contemporary works — plays and musicals — in theatres all over Norway, as well as in Poland, France, Denmark and the United States. He was the resident director at Oslo Nye Teater 1970-71; the principal of the Norwegian State Drama School in Oslo 1973-76; the artistic director of Rogaland Teater in Stavanger 1976-82; artistic director of Den Nationale Scene in Bergen 1982-86; the artistic director of Nationaltheatret in Oslo 1986-87; the resident director of Det Norske Teatret in Oslo 1987-94; the resident director of Nationaltheatret in Oslo 1994-96; the artistic director of Oslo Nye Teater 1996-2001. Since 2002, he has served as the resident director of Nationaltheatret in Oslo.

For the production, Bang-Hansen and his designers "have created a world reminiscent of the mid-1930s." Set and costume designer Timian Alsaker "has created a harsh, black and white set, bordered by corroded pipes." His costumes, "mostly in gray, black and white, echo the business suits and dresses of the mid-1930s."

Charlie Morrison is lighting designer. Martin Desjardins is sound designer.

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