“Public Enemy” Modernizes an Ibsen Classic

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Karina Bran: Petra Stockmann

Karina (Left) is a sophomore PASJ Major

 

What is Petra like?

Petra is more of a foil character. She’s pretty much always in the same standing. That was one of the best parts, I always knew where Petra stood and how I’m going to portray that. As long as I’m like, “yeah dad!” then I’m good.

 

Did you relate to Petra in any way?

I’ve done a lot of shows, and all the characters were great, but Petra felt a little more seamless. It just felt a lot more grounded. She was like, “alright I’m standing behind this cause, I know what I’m doing, and I’m clear minded,” she had a clear path. And I related to it, when you find a cause you get completely behind it.

 

What’s the rehearsal process like?

There’s no sleep. We’ve been in rehearsal for two months. I auditioned in August, we started [rehearsals] a week after we got cast. Typically rehearsals are Sunday through Thursday from six to ten until tech week. It starts out with table readings, going through scenes, memorizing your lines, before actual movements. Adding in movements changes everything. Before I was just reading this, but now we have to memorize when to move over here and what to do as we move. The cups that we used weren’t there until two weeks before the performance, we were all like, “OK when we get cups and have to start pouring things it’s going to get crazy because timing is everything.” It’s a little hectic, in a good way.

 

 

Evan Boukidis: Thomas Stockmann

Evan (left) is a senior PASJ Major

 

 

What was the audition process like?

The audition process was similar to a professional audition. There’s a cold reading process instead of preparing a monologue. I personally like that more because you get to go in there and read over the scene a little bit and try to study in the moment how you would play the character. I basically went in made some choices and they thanked me. I got a call back for the next day and then we did two scenes at the callback and tried different roles. The next day I got an email that said I had gotten the role, and I was super excited.

 

Do you relate to Thomas in any way?

Definitely in the social justice aspect. As an actor you always have to find a way to relate to the character because you have to play them. Even if you’re playing Donald Trump you have to find something redeemable about that man, even if it’s the hardest thing in the world because you’re playing them. Everyone has good and bad qualities, even if the bad outweighs the good. My character can be condescending a lot of the time, or thinks he’s always right, but he also has a lot of good qualities: he wants to do what’s best for the town and he thinks that’s the most important thing.

 

What’s your favorite scene?

Act Four, even though it’s the scariest. It’s the scariest because of all of the lines, and I’ll always be nervous about that scene now matter what, but it’s so much fun because I get to play off the audience. It also relates the most to modern times. It’s the one that connects this play that was written in the 1880s and 1930 to modern times.

 

 

Sarah Troup: Katherine Stockmann

Sarah (left) is a freshman PASJ Major

 

What was it like playing a main role as a freshman?

The cast is very much an ensemble where there’s really no true lead, other than Thomas. But it’s been wonderful. I totally didn’t expect to have the opportunity, the PASJ administrative faculty has been wonderful and my director Peter [Novak] is too. It’s been a blast and I’ve had so much fun.

 

What’s performing in a PASJ show like?

PASJ shows are reflective of a professional audition, so there’s an initial audition and then there’s callbacks, and from there you’re given your cast list. Because it’s run by faculty, it’s a little more stressful and to the point. It’s a different experience.

 

Are you similar to Mrs. Stockmann in any way?

Mrs. Stockmann is a mom, and I’m very much the “mom friend” in my group. She also has a lot of empathy for others. Her character towards her husband and her children is very strong, and it’s something that I can relate to because I have a very big family that I care a lot about.

 

 

Peter Novak: Director, USF Professor

 

What did you do as the director?

I ran auditions and cast the play. We had about 50 people audition over a series of two nights. To cast it we had to make some changes. We had so many more women audition than men, so we had to change some of the characters to female characters. The character of the grandma and the printer were changed into women, and we also changed the time of the play from the 1880s to the 1930s.

 

Why was this play chosen?

We’re the department of Performing Arts and Social Justice, and it’s important that we do work that matters and makes a difference. With the current political administration that doesn’t really believe in climate change or in science, and with what’s happening with Flint, Mich., and water pollution in drinking water around the world, and in this country even, we decided that it would be a really good thing to do, to bring that issue of Flint, Mich. into a more national conversation. It’s not only that we’re doing the play, but we’re also bringing in journalists who helped uncover the Flint crisis on for the Thursday performance, we have some environmental studies faculty also speaking before the performances.

 

Was the Act 4 monologue modernized in any way?

David Harrower wrote the adaptation, but most of the original text is still there. It’s just the language has been updated to feel a little bit more contemporary. But all these questions about politics, the press and search for clean water were in the original 1880 play as well. It’s kind of cool because it’s so pertinent as a play that it makes sense now.

 

All photos by Cheshire Isaacs, Courtesy of PASJ

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