SJU Theatre Company Presents “An Enemy of the People”

Friday, February 8, 2013

by Jeffrey Martin ’04, ’05 (M.A.)

For many students, college is a time to explore their role in the world when it comes to challenging authority, defending the common good, preserving the environment, and discerning between what is popular and what is right. The SJU Theatre Company will display the timelessness of these questions in An Enemy of the People, opening Thursday, Feb. 14, and running through Sunday, Feb. 24.

The play tells the story of a small town in Norway that tries to boost tourism by building a health spa from a natural spring, and a doctor in the town (played by Nick Nelson ’16) who discovers that poor construction could lead to poisoned water at the spas. When he tries to bring his concerns to the public, he is persecuted by a local government—including his brother, the mayor (Robby Daly ’13)—and a vocal citizen base who want to ensure the revenue-generating spa remains open, and he must risk everything to fight for the truth.

Written by Henrik Ibsen in the 1880s, An Enemy of the People was adapted by Arthur Miller for American audiences in 1950. The SJU Theatre Company will perform Miller’s adaptation.

“The play is more timely than ever,” says Laura Pattillo, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and the show’s director. “In recent years, we have seen many events and news stories that involve the kinds of issues explored in the play, including the ethics of making a profit at the expense of others; the importance of the ability to say unpopular things that need to be said; the role and responsibilities of the media; and the influence of corporations on public policy.”

The cast, comprised of a mix of veterans of the SJU stage and newcomers, is the largest group of any non-musical since 2005.

Pattillo says that students and faculty will see many connections between the play and course material. “Several students not involved in theatre have remarked to me upon learning what the play is about that it connects with their coursework in nearly every class they are taking,” she says. “From biology to philosophy to business, the themes explored in this play will speak to our world today.”

The show runs Feb. 14-16 and 22-23 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in Bluett Theatre, Post Hall, on Overbrook Ave. near 56th St. Running time is approximately two hours. Tickets are $18 for general admission, $10 for all students and SJU faculty and staff, senior citizens and children under 12. To reserve tickets, call 610-660-1181 or visit

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