Enemy of the People By Henrik Ibsen Adapted and Directed by Robert Icke and Starring Ann Dowd to Premiere at Park Avenue Armory
Icke’s interactive re-imagining of the Ibsen classic explores pressing issues of collective responsibility, economic stability vs. public health, and how democracy functions in moral crises of magnitude
June 22 – July 25
Building on the institution’s commitment to presenting spectacular, unconventional productions that cannot be mounted in traditional theaters, Park Avenue Armory announces the fourth commissioned work in its Social Distance Hall series: the world premiere of Enemy of the People, written by Henrik Ibsen and adapted by the groundbreaking director and playwright Robert Icke (1984, The Doctor, Mary Stuart, Hamlet, Oresteia and Oedipus). As conceived by Robert Icke, the play weaves a tale of morality, suspense, and controversy, with multiple characters represented by a single actor – Emmy award winning actor Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale).
Commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and developed during the pandemic, the play centers on a small former manufacturing town that has been revitalized as a resort destination due to its natural hot springs. When a scientist, who is the sister of the town’s Mayor, finds that the water is contaminated and the baths must be shut down, a democratic society confronts, in public and in private, a complex ethical crisis. The audience, sitting in pods of friends or family, will be invited to vote at critical moments of the story – and the majority vote will determine the play’s direction at each juncture.
“Since its launch, the Drill Hall has served as a powerful instrument that has both informed and enabled the work we have commissioned from artists as they pursue ambitious visions,” said Rebecca Robertson, Founding President and Executive Producer at Park Avenue Armory. “We are thrilled to be offering the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall as a place to safely deliver extraordinary works of live performance and to once again engage audiences in visceral and meaningful ways.”
“Robert Icke has created a play that is as relevant and disturbing today as it was a century and a half ago. It also directly engages the audience in the interplay of individual action and collective responsibility in a very visceral way,” stated Pierre Audi, the Armory’s Marina Kellen French Artistic Director. “The transitional season we commissioned for Social Distance Hall represents the wide range of work which is the Armory’s hallmark: dance, performance art, music and now theater. And in its own way, each production approaches a moment of transition and transformation for the performing arts and us as a society. Enemy of the People is a reimagining of a classic work that reveals issues that are timeless.”
“Ibsen’s play asks big questions that still have no easy answers: about democracy and debate, about votes and majorities, and about how in an increasingly online, increasingly divided world, we might all live together. I’m excited to bring our new version to audiences at the Armory,” said Robert Icke.
Enemy of the People is the fourth production of Social Distance Hall, which launched with SOCIAL! the social distance dance club, conceived by Steven Hoggett, Christine Jones, and David Byrne, followed by Party in the Bardo, a collaboration between Laurie Anderson and Jason Moran, and Afterwardsness by Bill T. Jones (running through May 26). Social Distance Hall provides artists with the space and resources to create and present new works safely to live audiences during the pandemic. The Armory, with its immense Drill Hall and multiple airy rooms and entrances—featuring an air volume comparable to being outdoors—has provided a pathway and model for the re-opening of the performing arts in New York and beyond.
Enemy of the People
Performances: June 22 – July 25
Previews: June 22 – June 29
Opening Night: June 30
Tickets start at $55 and must be purchased in pods of 2, 3, 4 or 5 people
Enemy of the People
After Ibsen, by Robert Icke
With Ann Dowd
Set and Costume Design by Hildegard Bechtler
Lighting Design by Natasha Chivers
Sound Design by Mikaal Sulaiman
HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS
The well-being of our staff, artists and audience is our top priority. The Armory has put in place rigorous COVID-19-related protocols that will comply or exceed the New York State Regulations.
As noted above, in Enemy of the People, the audience, arranged in pods of friends or family, is cast as the public. Each pod [bubble] is seated at their own table with a voting mechanism and will be invited as a group to vote at critical moments of the story. The majority vote will determine the play’s direction at each juncture.
Tickets will be sold in pods of two to five attendees. Each pod will be seated at an individual table. There will be no single ticket sales for this production.
Citi and Bloomberg Philanthropies are the Armory’s 2021 Season Sponsors.
The Social Distance Hall is supported in part by The Kaplen Brothers Fund.
Support for Park Avenue Armory’s artistic season has been generously provided by the Charina Endowment Fund, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Foundation, the Marc Haas Foundation, the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, the Richenthal Foundation, and the Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation. The artistic season is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support has been provided by the Armory's Artistic Council.
ABOUT ROBERT ICKE
Robert Icke is an award-winning writer and theatre director best known for his modern adaptations of classic texts. Recent original productions include Oedipus and After Nora at Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (2020, 2018), and The Doctor, based on Arthur Schnitzler’s Professor Bernhardi at the Almeida Theatre in London (2019). Other recent productions include Anton Chekhov’s Ivanov at Schauspiel Stuttgart (2019) and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre and West End (2017).
In 2018, Icke won the Kurt Hübner Award for his debut production in Germany, an adaptation of Oresteia, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is the youngest ever winner of the Olivier Award for ‘Best Director’ for Oresteia (2015), which also won the ‘Best Director’ prize at both the Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
ABOUT ANN DOWD
Ann Dowd, a veteran stage and screen actress, was the recipient of the 2017 Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series’ for her performance as “Aunt Lydia” on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. For her work on the hit show, now in its fourth season, Dowd has also won a 2017 Critics’ Choice Award and was nominated for a 2018 Golden Globe award and multiple Screen Actors Guild awards, plus a second Emmy nomination in 2018. Dowd also received a 2017 Emmy nomination for her portrayal of "Patty Levin" on the beloved HBO series The Leftovers, a role she portrayed for three seasons.
On the Broadway stage, Dowd has appeared in “The Seagull” with Kristen Scott Thomas and Carey Mulligan, “Taking Sides” with Ed Harris, Elizabeth Marvel and Michael Stuhlbarg and “Candida" alongside Robert Sean Leonard and Mary Steenburgen for which she received the Clarence Derwent Award given to the season's most promising newcomer. Dowd has also starred in notable Off Broadway and regional productions of "Night Is A Room," "The Normal Heart," "Doubt," and "Blood from a Stone" with Ethan Hawke and Natasha Lyonne.
For her work on the big screen, Dowd was the recipient of a Best Supporting Actress award from the National Board of Review for her performance in Craig Zobel’s psychological thriller Compliance. She was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and Critics’ Choice Award for the role. Additional film roles include Hereditary, American Animals, Captain Fantastic, St. Vincent, Marley & Me, Garden State, Flags of Our Fathers and Philadelphia. Her notable TV roles include the award-winning Foxtel series Lambs of God, Olive Kitteridge, recurring roles on Good Behavior, Masters of Sex, Quarry, Nothing Sacred, Judging Amy, Third Watch, Freaks and Geeks, and appearances on At Home with Amy Sedaris, True Detective, Louie, Girls, House, Chicago Hope, The X-Files, and NYPD Blue.
Dowd will next be seen in the feature film MASS, written and directed by Fran Kranz, scheduled for release this fall.