A Timeless Dilemma: “An Enemy of the People”

The Bishop’s Fall Play is waiting for the Bishop’s community to see…


Lisa Pan

Ben Hollingshead (‘24) and James Stutts (‘23) did some serious acting chops on the set of their last rehearsal before tech week. The set was made by Jack Rudy (‘26), John “Jerry” Huber (‘24), Kenneth Xiong (‘23), Ariadne Georgiou (‘26), Sophie Zeng (‘26), Abie Nahl (‘26), Charlotte Banta (‘23), and Rian Singh (‘25).


The greatest playwrights choose topics that seem so relevant in that time, and it’s still something we talk about a hundred years out.” – Kosi Eguchi (‘23)


“An Enemy of the People” doesn’t sit in one category. There is no villain, no hero. And it doesn’t answer one question; it raises multiple. On Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15, audience members will be faced with a seemingly unsolvable case. Should the press keep silent about the poisoned water flowing through their town for the public’s greater good, or should they ring the alarms at the cost of the people’s well-being? 

“There’s just so many different motivations. There’s not one singular protagonist. I think it’ll be challenging for the audience to know who they’re rooting for,” Ben Hollingshead (‘24), who plays the editor of the town’s newspaper, Hovstad, said thoughtfully. James Stutts (‘23) explained that the dilemma whether to alert people or not, represented by brothers, Dr. Stockmann and Mayor Stockmann, bring up good points. “The argument is the centerpiece of the entire play,” he concluded. 

Henrick Ibsen, who wrote “An Enemy of the People” in the late 1800’s, hooked the audience with a realm of questions. Kosi Eguchi (‘23) said that Ibsen was a playwright who asked more questions than he answered. Kosi stated, “the whole point of all his work is to make the audience question things that they may not have considered before.” He sighed and shrugged, continuing on. “The greatest playwrights choose topics that seem so relevant in that time, and it’s still something we talk about a hundred years out,” closed Kosi.

Theater Arts teacher Dr. Kristen Tregar, after learning that the theme for Bishop’s this year was integrity and purpose, tried to choose a play that would best fit into those categories.

Dr. Tregar explained that while Dr. Stockmann’s integrity fit perfectly into the theme. “An Enemy of the People” “is a very timely play,” Dr. Tregar said as she pursed her lips thoughtfully. “There’s a really stunning relevance to the play in terms of what is happening right now in our moment. There’s industries polluting the water, and people get sick.” She made an analogy to a more modern case from the 1980’s, where an investigative journalist from a city in Maine called Mexico, found that her hometown’s water was being polluted by a paper mill. “It’s touching on a lot of real life concerns right now,” she added.

Bishop’s has seen many fantastic plays in the past, however, there is something that stands out about “An Enemy of the People” to both the cast and crew. “It’s been so long at this school since we’ve done a show of this much dramatic heft. It’s an Ibsen play, and we haven’t done anything with this much realism in a while,” Ben said with a grin. 

Compared to both of last year’s plays, “A Piece of My Heart” and “On the Razzle,” many cast members have noticed prominent differences. “‘An Enemy of the People’ rides this fine line between comedy and drama. Most of the plays that are done at Bishop’s can pretty easily fall into one or two of those camps,” James Stutts (’23) said. 

“It’s such a verbal show. The last show we did was ‘On The Razzle’ which was very active, very farcical,” Kosi recalled. “We go from playing a caricature to a real person,” Ben added. 

The actors noted how the subtlety of the set contributes greatly to the storytelling. “I really enjoy the simplistic set. I think it gives us an easier way to focus on the characters, instead of focusing on the scenery,” Ben said. Stage Manager Jack Rudy (’26) compared the set to “Seussical,” the previous show he worked on in 2021. Seussical was a whimsical and colorful play, but drastically different from “An Enemy of the People.” Jack tapped his finger to his chin. “This definitely grounds you, but in a good way.” 

Technical Theater and Design teacher Mr. Kyle Melton explained his thought process. “The set of this show needs to allow for the story to be told and not get in the way of that. With this play, the story is the most important part,” he said. While he agreed that the lighting and the set had to provide environmental context, he also noted that handing information to the audience didn’t provide enough depth. “When you let the audience do a little bit of their own thinking, it allows them to connect to it in a more personal way.” 

While they haven’t made any new costumes this year, the Advanced Theater Production (ATP) team chose various pieces of clothing from what Bishop’s had in stock. While it was challenging to find pieces that would fit the mood of the play, given how much was taken up by Victorian and 1990’s clothes, Macy Haro (’23) has managed to create a well-fitting outfit for Petra and some of the ensemble. 

“I remember seeing a picture of Taylor Swift in a canary yellow, floral dress with a yellow cardigan and thinking that’s exactly the vibe I wanted.” She explained that an enormous amount of thought goes into choosing costumes: matching the environment, time period, and the little quirks of the character. “Having a good costume is key for seeing the show,” Macy added.

As Opening Night approaches, there are many things for the cast and crew of “An Enemy of the People” to look forward to. “It’s been an interesting process to get into,” James reflected.

Dr. Tregar’s eyes gleamed with pride, “It’s been awesome. I’ve been incredibly impressed with [the students’] professionalism.”

For much of the cast, it’s been a learning experience, too. “I’ve learned the art of subtlety. People notice the subtle choices you make, and you don’t need to be over the top a lot of the time,” James O’Brien (‘26), who plays Dr. Stockmann’s son, Martin Stockmann, nodded in satisfaction. 

With every new show comes great feedback, and Kosi expressed his enthusiasm for it. “I hope that afterwards, I can step off the stage, and talk to my friends, who are in the audience, and actually have a conversation about what was interesting about it.” Ben grinned, saying, “I think the Bishop’s community should be very excited to see the show. The story arc is fantastic. It’s really unlike anything we’ve seen at this school.”

Bishopians who’ve bought tickets to see “An Enemy of the People”: enjoy the show! And for those who haven’t, grab one from the box office and see who’s side you take, if you do take a side!