The newest English adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, starring Jeremy Strong and Michael Imperioli, met with the press earlier this week to explore the relevance of the shows return to Broadway. The discussion was moderated by Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner.
Newly adapted by 2023 Tony nominee Amy Herzog, the production will be directed by Tony winner Sam Gold, with previews beginning February 27, 2024 at the Circle in the Square Theatre, and opening night set for March 18.
Set in a small Norwegian spa town, An Enemy of the People follows the principled Doctor Thomas Stockmann as he attempts to alert the public that the spa’s water is poisoned. The resulting backlash to his revelation, borne out of society's desperation for financial preservation, examines the morality of public outcry and the struggles shouldered by whistleblowers across time. This will be the first production of the work to play Broadway since 2012, when Boyd Gaines led a revival.
"I was scared to take on something that was so directly speaking to our time," said Gold, referring to what draw him to directing the piece. "It's not the way I usually work. I tend to do things that are much more domestic and emotional and psychological. And this play is an allegory for how humans behave towards each other as a body politic. How does power function? How does truth function? How does science come up against economics? It's sort of a microcosm for all the ways we as small communities in the world negotiates ourselves."
The production is the second Ibsen adaptation of Herzog's to reach the Broadway stage, following her Tony-nominated adaptation of A Doll's House that recently played Broadway's Hudson Theatre starring Jessica Chastain.
"The three of us have known each other for a really long time: 25 years" Gold elaborates. "It all comes together at a certain point, falling into place. Amy has now done Ibsen translations, and she likes doing it. Jeremy's done with his TV show, and is so good for this part. It's one of those things."
"I got a text from Sam in March, when I had just finished working on Succession," Strong remembers. "To be honest, returning to the stage was not something on my radar. It's been a long time since I've done a play. But you know, I've known Amy since 1997 in college, and I've known Sam since 2001, and there was always a hope that we would find something to do together. So I read the play, and it really struck me like a bolt of lightning. The sense of a man confronting the necessity of action, at the same time as the impossibility of action. And I thought that was an incredible dilemma and engine for a play."
Strong continues on, impassioned. "I was so moved by the allegory of the play, this idea of a man discovering that the water system that is feeding the health spa of the town, the moral, ethical, spiritual wellspring of their life, is poisoned. It just ricocheted across every single thing that we're living through and confronting, from the court of public opinion to the climate crisis. This idea of an ineluctable fact, someone presenting an objective, empirical fact, pointing to the destruction of a town, and seeing the powers that be ostracize that man to protect their interests... Amy has honed in on and carved out the human aspect of a place where fact and objectivity and truth is inverted. The simple act of trying to speak a verifiable scientific truth to a majority that rejects the idea of expertise as elitism."
An Enemy of the People will feature scenic design by dots, costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Isabella Byrd, sound design by Mikaal Sulaiman, production stage management by Rachel Bauder, technical supervision by Juniper Street Productions, and casting by Taylor Williams Casting. Additional casting and creative team members will be announced at a later date.
Strong previously appeared on Broadway in 2008's A Man for All Seasons. In recent years Strong has starred on the HBO drama Succession, portraying protagonist Kendall Roy. He is an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild winner.