The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 28, 2014

Topical play highlights ethical battle between brothers

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Whether a play can be considered "timeless" is usually subjective. But a production at Pittsburg State University can easily and objectively be compared to headlines from the last few years, said Joey Pogue.

"It's topical today, because of blue-green algae on Grand Lake, and the same thing at Lake of the Ozarks and other parts of the country," said Pogue, director of PSU's production of "An Enemy of the People."

Henrik Ibsen's play from 1882 tells the story of a town with popular municipal baths that draw visitors from around the country. When a doctor discovers that the water is tainted to the point of being poisoned, he and the town's mayor -- who happen to be brothers -- clash over the disclosure of the danger, putting people's health against the city reaping extra revenue from tourism. The story provides a moral issue that was later incorporated in "Jaws," Pogue said.

"Ibsen challenged us to look at ourselves and how we take short cuts to make money and be prosperous," Pogue said. "He always challenges us to look at truths that are not popular."

Those sorts of qualities have made Ibsen one of Pogue's favorite playwrights, he said. Starting out as mainly a poetic playwright, Pogue said Ibsen became part of a movement in the 1800s that focused on more realistic situations and less happy endings. The resulting plays provided powerful comments on society during the staunch Victorian era.

Logan Qualls and Jacob Hacker play the Stockmann brothers -- Qualls as the doctor who discovers the poison and Hacker as the mayor. Other cast members include Taylor Patterson and Jeanine Kunshek.


Want to go?

"An Enemy of the People" will be presented from today until Sunday at the PSU Theatre, located at Joplin and Cleveland streets. Showtimes are 8 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $11, $7 for seniors and students, free for PSU students, faculty and staff.

The play's theme will be the focus of an interdisciplinary lecture series Monday on campus in conjunction with an exhibit by Chad Erpelding.

Details: 620-235-4796.

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