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An Enemy of the People: A Public Health Project

Adapted, directed, and facilitated by Bryan Doerries

An Enemy Of The People Cast Banner 22

An Enemy of the People will present acclaimed actors, public health leaders, scientists, journalists, elected officials, and local community members performing dramatic readings of scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play An Enemy of the People to help frame powerful, guided audience discussions aimed at generating connection, understanding, compassion, moral repair, and much-needed healing. The play tells the story of a doctor who discovers the water supply in his small, rural town has been poisoned by a tannery. Despite his efforts to convey the truth to the public, the doctor fails to save his community from environmental disaster and is ultimately scapegoated for his whistleblowing. An Enemy of the People was first performed in Norway in 1882, and yet it speaks to the present moment as if it were written for our times — to the corrosive influence of power and money in politics, the distortions of the media, and the many other challenges to public health in our culture today, especially during times of crisis.

Presented by Theater of War Productions, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and LabX – A Program of the National Academy of Sciences, with support from Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences.

Adapted, directed, and facilitated by Bryan Doerries.

Featuring performances by David Strathairn (Nomadland), Keith David (Nope), Jay O. Sanders(True Detective), Brían F. O'Byrne (The Wonder), Monica Feit (Executive Director, Health and Medicine Division, National Academy of Sciences), Jeffrey Kahn (Director, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics), Keshia Pollack Porter (Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), Tshaka Cunningham (Chief Scientific Officer, Polaris Genomics), Gloria Addo-Ayensu (Director of Health, Fairfax County Health Department), Emily Packard Dawson (Program Officer, National Academy of Sciences), and Matthew Frieman (Viral Pathogen Research Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine).

This event will be captioned in English on Zoom.

This hybrid presentation will take place in person and on Zoom Webinar. If you choose to join us online, this event can be accessed on personal devices. The event Zoom link will be distributed via email and available to registered attendees starting two days prior to the event.

In-person seating is on a first come, first served basis. Registration does not guarantee a seat. Doors open at 6:30pm.

All of Theater of War Productions' events follow the same format:

  • The performers will read the text.
  • Community panelists will kick off the discussion with their gut responses to what resonated with them across time.
  • We will open the discussion to the audience, facilitated by Bryan Doerries. To participate in the discussion online, please raise your hand using the button at the bottom center of the screen. If called upon, please accept the invitation to be promoted to speak and you will be visible and heard by the entire audience for the duration of your comments. If you would prefer not to be seen, please disable your video.



About the play

  • An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen

    First performed in Norway in 1882, An Enemy of The People tells the story of a doctor who discovers the water supply in his small, rural town has been poisoned by a tannery. Despite his efforts to convey the truth to the public, the doctor fails to save his community from environmental disaster and is ultimately scapegoated for his whistleblowing.

Cast Members

  • David Strathairn Headshot

    David Strathairn

  • Kathryn Erbe Headshot

    Kathryn Erbe

  • Jay O. Sanders Headshot

    Jay O. Sanders

  • Frankie Faison Headshot

    Frankie Faison

  • Peter Francis James Headshot

    Peter Francis James

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