Reflecting on Arthur Miller’s Adaptation and the Gaon/Erez Israeli Adaptation of AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

After a rousing response from students to last week’s performance of BOGED, we now ask about key similarities in approach and intention and key structural differences that playwright/adapter Arthur Miller and our Israelis Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez exampled in their respective revisions of Ibsen’s original drama. We’ve read Miller’s introduction to his adaptation. It’ll be great to read a student summary of Miller’s intention. And others can build on that; on Miller’s intentions and the key ways in which he changed the scene structure and dialogue from Ibsen’s original.

And just as interesting will be to hear from students taking a second critical look at the Israeli BOGED now that they’ve had a chance to read the text and consider the wide ranging series of responses from critics.

For a run-down of the press page, click here

Review:”…a significant—and successful—reworking of the classic” - Washingtonian, Missy Frederick

Review: In Theater J’s ‘Boged,’ an Israeli whistleblower is seen as toxic - The Washington Post, Peter Marks

Review: In a time plagued with controversy, a thought-provoking intensely profound new work - DC Metro Theater Arts, Amanda Gunther

Review: Boged Hits it’s mark - The Georgetown Dish, Judith Beermann

Review: “…an inspiring play, covering delicate themes of corruption, greed, and power” - The Georgetown Voice, Dayana Gomez

Review: “..it’s well worth your time” - MD Theatre Guide, Elliot Lanes

Israeli tensions spill onto the stage in new ‘Enemy of the People’ - The Washington Post, Nelson Pressley

‘Boged’…relevant to Israeli audiences
 - Washington Jewish Week, Lisa Traiger

About these ads

23 responses to “Reflecting on Arthur Miller’s Adaptation and the Gaon/Erez Israeli Adaptation of AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

  1. Katharine Randle

    When I first read Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play, it was difficult for me to define the key differences between the two. The characters, plot, and scenes all seemed to be the same. The only difference I could sense was a shift in my opinion of Dr. Stockmann. At the end of Ibsen’s original, I believed that Stockmann was a bit deserving of the town’s ridicule, but the adaptation made him seem to be more of a victim. When I compare the two climactic town hall scenes (Act IV for Ibsen and Act II Scene II in Miller) it becomes clear why Miller’s adaptation left me with such a different opinion of the doctor. By tweeking his presentation of “the people” and softening Dr. Stockmann’s rhetoric about democracy, Miller’s play offers a different view of the conflict.

    In Ibsen’s version, the conflict is between Dr. Stockmann and the people. In Miller’s, the mayor is framed as being the source of tension. Ibsen’s scene starts and ends with chatter amongst the townspeople. We hear them speaking amongst each other as individuals first about what they expect from the meeting and finally about what their opinions of Dr. Stockmann are. By giving the people voices, the audience views them as individuals. Miller’s scene opens on an empty stage. According to Horster, the people are waiting to come in until the mayor arrives. Making the people totally dependent on the mayor’s leadership deprives them of their individual will. These views of the people present two very different views of democracy. Ibsen’s people seem to consciously decide to call Stockmann a traitor while Miller’s people seem tricked into doing so by the mayor.

    Another important difference between the two scenes is Stockmann’s speech. In Ibsen’s play, Stockmann says the “majority never has right on its side.” In Miller’s play, Stockmann says, “I am in revolt against the age-old lie that the majority is always right!” The italicization of “always” indicates that Miller’s use of the word is very important. The difference between “never” and “not always” is huge. If the majority were seen as always being wrong, then Stockmann would be positioning himself against the people. Instead, he deems the majority as being wrong in this instance. This qualification assigns blame to the forces manipulating the people (namely the mayor.)

  2. As a testament to Isben, the themes prevalent in his original “Enemy of the People” are applicable to almost all societies- fighting for a cause when nobody believes you, trying to determine the true definition of democracy- but Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez add complexity and context by adapting it to the Israeli cause. Beyond the contemporary mentions of an “Israeli Spring,” the agitated relationship with the Bedouin people, and a desert that offers nothing to its people, there are also many references to the country’s Jewish heritage. They are small details- Ekstein asking for Tommy’s real name, and throwaway references to the Holocaust- but all of this contributes a level of depth and connection for the people of Israel that causes the play to resonate more with them.

    Another deviation from the original is the relevance of family to the entire conflict. In Ibsen’s version, the main focus is on the democratic majority and what makes “a man.” At the city council meeting, Stockmann’s rant is mostly about how the majority is not right until it does right. Similarly, in both Ibsen’s original and Gaon and Erez’s adaptation, the young reporter (Hovstad and Hoffman respectively) sparks the idea of the poison of corruption in the scientist’s head. With Hovstad, the suggestion is much more explicit- he believes the pollution is a scandal caused by the bureaucrats, to which Stockmann objects. Hoffmann mentions the political corruption and how Ekstein and Simon are at the root of it, but for the most part his conversation is concerned with the youth revolutionary movement and the change they will enact. This causes Tommy to seem like the progenitor of the rage towards the corrupt authority headed by Simon when he flies off the handle at the city council meeting, and the conflict between the two brothers simmers on for the rest of the show due to their mutual resentment of each other. Everything in “Boged” takes on a personal meaning that distorts motivations.

    The importance of family in “Boged” causes it to be occasionally used as a tool. Simon is the main example of this, often calling upon their childhood memories and using terms of endearment in referring to their parents in order to try to instigate guilt in Tommy and prevent him from reporting his tests until after the election. Moddy Ekstein and Alex do not hesitate to use familial references as well to bring about particular results. Ekstein pretends that her company’s significance lies in that it belonged to her father, not in its economic value, and patronizingly says the phrase “my brother” to forcefully imply a closer relationship with the listener than what actually exists, while Alex repeats Tommy’s father’s phrase of “family is sacred” to control Tommy into doing what he wants.

    However, that is not to say that all references to family are ruthless. Clearly, Tommy, Katya, and Yarden share a close bond even in difficult circumstances, and Alex gives away a substantial amount of money so that his daughter’s family can be secure. Even Simon, when it comes down to it, treasure the idea of family, saying Tommy’s biggest fault was putting them in danger. Unlike in Isben’s original, where Peter mentions what he did for Stockmann and he fully admits that everything was out of self-interest and in order to preserve his own reputation, Simon faces the moral dilemma of balancing his dedication towards his family with his own aspirations, with the results varying depending on the situation.

    As a request for someone who is much more informed on Jewish culture than I: can someone elaborate on the role of family in Jewish culture? Ekstein makes reference to the importance of privacy and how it’s not their way to air dirty laundry, but having a clear idea of the centrality of family would provide a strong foundation for discussion moving forward.

    • I also think that the Boaz/Erez adaptation builds heavily on family ties to project its message to the audience. I don’t know anything about family relations specific to Jewish families, but I would say that, in general, families are relatively similar across cultures. I was actually very struck by the similarities between the Doany family and families I’ve known here in the US. I don’t presume to know what Boaz and Erez’s intention was in making the influence of family so much more pronounced in their adaptation, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was because they were incorporating Jewish culture. I wonder if they thought that incorporating family ties into the story was simply an important dimension they could add to Ibsen’s play, not because it was Jewish, but because it it’s a meaningful part of self-identification. How you define yourself, whether as a traitor or as wrongly censured, has a lot to do with your family experiences and how they perceive you.

      • Sorry, I did not explain myself fully. Families are clearly important across all cultures; however, in some cultures certain values are prioritized so that your family is really at the center of your life, such as the respect for your ancestors and preservation of routines that are at the foundation of Confucianism (whereas in America, we focus more on the individual). Part of my presumption that the heavy emphasis on family was due to their Jewish heritage was because Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez adapted almost everything else to fit the Israeli situation, and really connect their audience to the show.

        Also, while I completely agree with you that identifying yourself as a traitor depends on your familial situation, Tommy, Katya, and Yarden stay together despite all of the difficult challenges (even though Simon would be included as family, emotionally, Tommy was already pretty estranged from Simon from the start). Even when Tommy stands alone on the stage in the end, his monologue indicates that he views them as a concrete unit fighting against the rest of the filth, and so he is not portrayed as much as a “traitor” as he could have been.

    • brandonshawruns

      Mary – I agree with most, if not all, of your points, but like we discussed in class, my contention would be with the overly-academic nature of this post. You sum up in perfect, pristine form what happened in both versions, and provide minor insights into the differentiation and perhaps why. But I’d like to see personal connection, a reference to personal life or outside connection, what it meant to you, anything that suggests this is an interactive blog, not an abbreviated thesis. That said, I like and enjoy your commentary and appreciate the thoughts. I too agree that the Judaic components served the play nicely without pushing overboard, a nice touch for what I hope will be the plays to come within Theater J.

      • What points of mine did you disagree with? I know I often have a difficulty with separating “complexity” from “inconsistency of characterization” (like just because someone seems to have a lot of conflicting motivations doesn’t necessarily mean their personality is well-developed- they could just be written poorly), so I wouldn’t mind a discussion on how I interpreted the characters and their actions. Or anything else you took issue with.

  3. I’d like to mention Arthur Miller’s preface to his adaptation of Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People”, because it explains what he hopes to accomplish by adapting the famous work. It also gives the reader a clearer idea of why a playwright would want to adapt a play that is famous in its own right.
    Arthur Miller remarks with a touch of humor that he worked on the adaptation partly to avoid having to work on his own play, but he writes that his motive was much greater than mere procrastination. Miller was struck by what he calls Ibsen’s ‘conviction’. He says that every one of Ibsen’s plays is infused with passion and sincerity, and Ibsen’s assurance commands the audience to listen to his message. I think Ibsen’s conviction is absolutely obvious when watching the Goan/Erez adaptation, and no doubt it would be obvious if we saw Arthur Miller’s adaptation performed as well.
    In addition to wanting to share Ibsen’s conviction, Miller wanted bring Ibsen out of the obscurity he had fallen into at that time. Miller believed that Ibsen would always be relevant because his plays demonstrated the complexities, not the trivialities, of life. His plays weren’t meant to be taken lightly, and weren’t meant to be only entertainment. Miller described Ibsen as a man “who could make a play as men make watches, precisely, intelligently, and telling not the merely the minute and the hour but the age.” Indeed, while watching the Goan/Erez adaption, ‘Boged’, it is obvious to the audience that the message of the play is applicable to any society, any time, any place.
    Miller wanted the play to be as alive for us Americans as it was for Norwegians. He contemporized the language and removed comments that he saw as somewhat fascist or racist. He reasoned that Ibsen couldn’t have truly supported these statements because the overall messages of his plays contradicted them. He believed that Ibsen, had he been alive during Miller’s time, would have removed some of the lines himself.
    Miller’s preface is helpful in explaining not only his own adaptation, but also the Boaz/Goan adaptation. Ibsen created plays with a resounding message that other playwrights were motivated to share with their own generations. I would agree that despite the details of a particular adaptation, the premise of the play will always be moving and relevant.

    • KS: Thanks for touching on the preface – I didn’t even know there was a preface, so for your attentiveness and thorough nature, I am eternally grateful. I’m a huge fan of Miller, and he’s probably my favorite playwright (I’ve probably only read plays from about 5 different authors but I feel like I sound more intelligent when I say I have a favorite playwright). I’m assuming that because you pulled out that watchmaker quote that you liked it. I did as well. Great writers make great analogies. I also agree with your analysis of the play in that it is applicable to any society at any time. I think that’s very important to note. Just because it takes place in Israel doesn’t mean it is only applicable to Israelis. That’s also probably why it’s been adapted so many times. It’s a great classic with great themes. Now I’m gonna go check out that preface.

  4. Katharine Randle

    Karinne, I love your observation that Ibsen’s work “demonstrated the complexities, not the trivialities of life.” I agree that the core of ‘Enemy of the People” transcends time and place, which makes Miller’s task in creating an adaptation an interesting pursuit. Like restoring an old piece of art, Miller dusted and polished until Americans in his time could properly connect to the play. Miler mentions that his goal was not to force people to appreciate something old and respected — that is what museums are for. Even though a thought or a theme can be timeless, they way it is presented can be adapted to fit the place and the time. The Israeli adaptation presents this theme with a specific purpose to address a relevant problem.

  5. As a student of this Theater of Politics class, I feel very interesting of how it is structured. I feel excited that I no longer need to listen to a professor consistently talking for 3 hours while I couldn’t help counting how many times he or she would drink their water. I like that we get to read materials that are related to the plays before the real ones; I like the fact that we have all these chances to see plays for the most of the weeks; I like both the discussion after the play and in class; I like that we get these chances to read reviews of the play, which provide me an opportunity to see what are the professional people think about the play, and what are the differences between their angles. I also enjoy attending the readings, which I would explain in a separate comment later.

    As it’s my first-time experience with a theater play, I appreciated everything in that show. At the same time, I was eager to know what the professional points of views about the play would be. As I read through different reviews of the play during the week, I was surprised that how different the viewpoints could be from a same play at the same angle. For example, on one hand, Missy Frederick form Washingtonian was saying that this modern adaption was very successful in terms of the characters. She provided details about how the play transferred Ibsen’s original version from having the possibility to be didactic to the excellence of dealing with the most heavy-handed dialogues. On the other hand, a harsh review given by Chris Klimek from Washintoncitypaper ended his critique towards the adaption by saying that “Gaon and Erez should’ve heeded their own lesson”.

    I agree a part of Klimek’s analysis when he was saying that “Tommy fails not because he’s wrong, but because he doesn’t think he needs to engage his opponents in the language of the media. In other words, being right doesn’t free you of the obligation to be captivating.” In the case of the character itself, I think he did have problem, as I mentioned in my previous comment, of being too naive to trust people without thinking of the result, especially when it comes to the politics. However, I was thinking that it might be the purposely setting of this character, that’s the intention made by the play writers to teach people this lesson of never think the world is that simple. Personally, I don’t think it would be ever necessary to “attack” the play writers in the way of how Klimek did.

    This is just my opinion, as being a Rookie in the theater world. I don’t tend to criticize anything thing of the play itself not only because of my personality (always appreciate new things), but also because of the simple fact that I haven’t expose much enough and I don’t think I have the right to criticize any person’s hard work.

    Thank you for reading my comments.

    • Jingru, I completely agree that the official reviews were somewhat contradicting and confusing. I was surprised to see how much opinions differed. I too looked to the professional critics for some guidance but at times disagreed with what they said. So to expand on your comment on how different the reviews were, I want write about how detrimental a review can be—something I hadn’t really thought about until Professor Roth mentioned it last Thursday. The big reviews can really dissuade or persuade people to get off their couches and go see a production. So when “Boged” was so quickly written off because of a few flubs on opening night, I feel like a lot of people, who would have really enjoyed this show, decided not to see it.

  6. For last time’s blog, I focused on the differences between the Goan/Erez adaptation and the Arthur Miller adaptation, commenting specifically on the character of Simon and Dr. Stockmann. The comparison between the original Ibsen and the Miller adaptation was a slightly harder task, due to how closely the adaptation stays with the original. The key turning point, as Katharine pointed out, is the town hall scene. As she has already made a comparison in regard to the different characters involved in the conflict, I’d like to focus on the character of Aslaksen and how his character differs.

    Aslaksen appears sparingly in the climax, but in both the original and the adaptation, it is clear that he is a respected figure in the community, indicated by his selection as the moderator of the meeting. His actions as the “chairman” are reflective of the attitude of the larger community and this makes all the difference in the progression of the meeting. In Miller’s adaptation, Aslaksen initially strives to maintain an impartial moderator, but it soon becomes obvious that he supports the criticism against Dr. Stockmann. Though he participates rarely, he speaks up only to silence the doctor and encourage the accusations against him. His continual support is reflective of the townspeople who entered the meeting with the mindset that Dr. Stockmann is a traitor.

    On the other hand, Ibsen’s Aslasken is portrayed as an individual who seems to strive to maintain impartiality and keep the meeting civil. In this circumstance, where the townspeople have no preconceptions of who is right or wrong, it is Dr. Stockmann who oversteps his boundaries and, by ignoring the moderator’s attempts to keep things civil, loses his opportunity to logically present his ideas to the people. Dr. Stockmann loses to emotions. Thinking back to approximately a week ago, this makes the town hall scene from Boged, which I had thought to be overdramatic in comparison to the Miller, the more authentic of the two. It maintains some original sense of the scene, where Dr. Stockmann/Doany is not simply a victim, but an active participant that is partially responsible for how the townspeople turn against him after the meeting.

    I went to Boged having only read Miller’s preface and his adaptation. Reading the original has given me more insight into the liberties both adaptations took and allowed me to reconsider the values that I should be walking away from the play with. It’s also helped me come to a new appreciation of the town hall scene in Boged, knowing that it sticks closer to the original manuscript.

    • Hi Lilliana, I am impressed by your detailed analysis of the way that Aslaksen was portrayed in both the original work and the adaption. When I was trying to compare both works, I was just looking at them in a relatively larger scale, such as looking the main conflicts arising between those characters or differences of the main themes in both works. I really like the way how you aiming your analysis. Besides, I strongly agree that Aslasken is a respectful figure. And I think he is very capable. I think he was just too addicted to the power in his hands among those years, and part of it might be because he has such large family to take care of. He never forgets his family but just he put the power as his first priority.

  7. While all adaptations I have read or seen of Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” have had many similarities, they all have specific differences which make them different and diverse. I think Miller and Gaon’s versions both speak very true to the time frame in which they were adapted. They hold cultural significance and relativity. Arthur Miller brought Ibsen’s story to life in the mid-1900s, begging the question: should a righteous man stand up for truth at any cost or should he compromise for the benefit of his family and his personal well being?–much like the original but with hints of modernity.

    Gaon’s version is very similar, but it brings the question to Israel. This version offers a new element of conflict, as it examines the delicate infrastructure of Israel and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Boged modernizes Ibsen’s original “An Enemy of the People” while still keeping the overarching theme of the ignorance of a majority and the power they play in decision making.

    After studying all three versions of this play, and especially after seeing “Boged”, the thing that stuck out the most to me was the power of the media and public communications–the driving force behind the voice of the majority. In Boged, I could not help but question the credibility of the Ekstein corporation and I did not at first grasp why the public was so quick to discredit Tommy. Then it hit me–it was the media.

    The general public is not a well-educated body and they typically trust what they hear via news or neighbors. In “Boged”, public opinion formed quickly and powerfully against Tommy due to Ekstein bribing various media outlets to denounce Tommy and support Ekstein. This was intensified when the mayor supported Ekstein, since he was a trusted and well-respected figure in the community.

    I guess the key thing I took from all of these adaptations is to never believe everything you hear on the news, hear by word of mouth, or read in books or online. For important life-altering decisions, you should always look into the situation yourself and do your own research before you jump on the bandwagon and potentially make a devastating, horrible, uneducated decision–like the townspeople in Boged.

    • I had the same thoughts as Sarah regarding the extreme influence of outside forces. I was much more aware of the intensity of the media’s influence in Erez and Goan’s Boged than in Arthur Miller’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People. The influence of an outside force (in this case, the media) is a recurring theme in many works of art including literature and performance. As Sara stated, I believe that the primary issue lies within the audiences that the media targets. This applies to any situation, not just Boged. Oftentimes, the targeted audiences are naïve and do not know what to believe and what not to believe, and therefore they believe what the majority is telling them- they believe what the media is telling them. The media wasn’t the sole factor influencing the public’s opinion; the power of politics (Mayor Doany) played a major role as well. Because the public did not know the truth regarding the industrial plants and the pollution they’re producing, the general public continued to follow Mayor Doany, as if he is a role model for the town. Even though the Mayor is well aware of the pollution infiltrating the town, he dismisses this issue because he is solely motivated by his campaign and building more industrial plants and factories in order to increase the town’s revenue. This play in particular was able to affectively and clearly demonstrate how easily people are influenced and how easily the media is able to influence people.

  8. I expected the Arthur Miller adaptation of An Enemy of the People to be very similar to the Boaz Gaon version we saw. It was not. It was a very quick read, very easy, which is one of the reasons I like reading plays so much. A 300-page behemoth goes by just like that. But anyways, despite similar plots – both involve the doctor fighting his brother to protect the health of the townspeople – I was surprised to see how different the two were thematically. The Gaon version seemed to stress the conflict between the little guy against the big guy, the doctor versus the industry. Arthur Miller’s version, however, was more centered on the importance of the truth.

    The endings of the respective versions were where the difference was really evident. Arthur Miller’s adaptation illustrated the doctor as a man almost obsessively loyal to the preservation of the truth. In fact in the end, it is assumed that he and his family are left at the hands of an angry mob just to hold onto the truth. Seems pretty obsessive to me. Gaon’s version, however, mostly centered on that aforementioned conflict, and the end had the doctor submitting to defeat at the cost of the truth.

    The difference in themes was what surprised me so much, but I was also interested to see the connections between Miller’s adaptation and another of his plays: The Crucible. Both place a huge importance on defending the truth, even at the cost of one’s life. I never made that connection watching the Gaon version. The last thing that I wanted to touch on was that, in my opinion, it’s a lot harder to construct a character in a 60-page play than it is when you can take that play and put it on the stage. Miller’s version created unique characters, even though it was such a short read. That’s something I’ll always be in awe of, and something Miller seems to do effortlessly.

    • While I believe Sam made many good points, I do not agree with all of them. There were many similarities in plot between Boged and Arthur Miller’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People. I believe that both Dr. Doany in Boged, and Dr. Stockmann in An Enemy of the People stood their ground and upheld their respective beliefs at the end of the plays. It may have seemed like Dr. Doany of Boged was accepting defeat and giving in because of the speech he delivered at the end of the play. However, sarcastic and snide remarks, hinting at his true thoughts and beliefs, were hidden within this speech, therefore revealing that he intends to stand by his original findings.

      • Oh common Adamo… Doany couldn’t have it both ways. He gave up, admitted defeat. Yes he hinted at sticking by his original findings, but he publicly admitted he was wrong! What a wuss! You didn’t see Dr. Stockmann or John Proctor saying they were wrong and then throwing in little snide remarks to make themselves feel a little better about selling out. Nope.

        Dr. Stockmann: “You are fighting for the truth, and that’s
        why you’re alone. And that makes you strong – we’re the strongest people in the world.” John Proctor: “Because it is my name!” These guys are the heroes. Dr. Doany, Ms. Adamo, ain’t a hero.

    • Sorry Rachel – going with Sam on this one. I do agree that Dr. Doany can’t have it both ways. One of the biggest reasons I preferred the Miller version is because of the different endings. Arguably, the sarcasm and snide remarks at the end of the play did imply that Dr. Doany still stood by his research. This is something that I do agree with you on. However, it is also a fact that he sacrificed the truth in order to appease the community. Regardless of what his “true thoughts” may have been, I left the play feeling like he threw up his hands and handed off the burden of the truth to the next generation. The public apology freed him of any responsibility to look back and make another attempt at presenting the truth.

      On the other hand, I’d disagree with the idea that Miller’s Stockmann simply left his family to the mercy of the angry mob. Though his plans are rough, he does think about how to continue life in the city and he considers how to educate a group of fresh minds that will be able to think for themselves, as opposed to blindly following the expectations of the community.

  9. I found Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People very interesting, his preface in particular. His entire preface was dedicated to describing what he has attempted to do with Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. Miller’s main motivations for selecting An Enemy of the People was to demonstrate that Ibsen is not “old-fashioned,” “reinforce the idea that the dramatic writer has…the right to entertain with his brain as well as his heart,” and to reveal that Ibsen is in fact “pertinent today.”

    I like the contemporary aspect of Erez and Goan’s Boged production. It is nice to see a modern day issue brought to light through an adaptation of an older play. I do agree with the review from the “Georgetown Voice” when Dayana Morales Gomez says, “the play itself is somewhat predictable.” It seems as though this modern adaptation of Ibsen’s play follows the original An Enemy of the People story line very, very closely. I agree with the basic plot overview expressed in the “Georgetown Voice” review as well regarding Tommy’s role, and the town’s response to his situation. I also agree with the statement in the “Georgetown Voice” that the Boged production was “aim[ed] at attracting mature audiences.” I agree with this statement because the older generation is the generation that is the most aware of the current issues Israel is facing.

    • Even if the specific premise of “Boged” as adapted to Israel may be aimed towards attracting mature audiences, I think a lot of its themes can resonate with youths as well. The younger characters of Hoffman and Yarden demonstrate a spirit of rebelliousness towards the established authority similar to that in the original, and even if Hoffman does not stick with it, Tommy and his daughter still embody the that determination until the end. Tommy even mentions a “new community [that] is emerging and it is young.” Also, Israel’s environmental movement emerged relatively recently, and the presence and detriments of pollution may be more on the youths’ radar. So, not in disagreement with your statement at all, while “Boged” may initially appeal to older audiences, the young will find much to connect with as well.

  10. After seeing Boaz Gaon’s and Nir Erez’s “Boged: An Enemy of the People” and reading Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” I find that Miller and Gaon/Erez have very similar intentions, and that is to relay a message. I think the message can be interpreted differently depending on the person, but for me it is that the truth and doing what is right, is worth fighting for. Both adaptations wanted to bring Ibsen’s message to a different audience—Miller to Americans, and Gaon/Erez to Israelis. There are little things I prefer in each adaption over the others.

    First, I prefer the character Morten Kiil over Alex Morton. I don’t know if it is because I saw “Boged” and only read Miller’s adaptation, but I sympathized with Kiil. Alex Morton on the other hand came out of nowhere and was really unsettling. I also prefer Miller’s ending—but don’t get me wrong, I liked the final speech Tommy Doany gave at the end of “Boged”. However, Doany’s final speech seemed to be a point of disagreement amongst my classmates and me. I personally interpreted the speech as relaying that yes, Tommy was giving in to the town at the moment, but that he was going to continue fighting. Others found the speech to be very much a point of Tommy’s giving up. Miller’s ending doesn’t have that epic final speech—he ends it in an open ended way that allows to audience to decide themselves what happens next. Sometimes I prefer this and for this particular story I think it works better.

    Lastly I want to comment on the review written by Peter Marks in the Washington Post. I think the term “bland knockoff” used by Marks is a little harsh. I am of course no expert, but it is an adaptation, so yes, the story is similar but I think Boaz Goan and Nir Erez do a good job at making the story original. Also, Marks pokes fun at the wooden stage not once, but twice and uses the word lugubrious, which after a quick dictionary.com search, I learn to mean exaggerated. I just want to say, that I liked the wooden floor and how it split into jagged pieces as the tension builds.

  11. brandonshawruns

    Per usual, I agree with Karinne’s post among the most of the above. I particularly, too, like the observation that Ibsen’s play here “demonstrated the complexities, not the trivialities of life.” Life is a complex entity which is boiled down to simplicity far too frequently – online, via digital and social media, through the old media channels, and in daily conversations, and a play like this retains such significance and importance because of the notion of life’s complexities it explores, and in my opinion, it explores well.
    I would agree that the two follow each other closely, they mirror each other in fact, and arguably the nuanced differences (the town hall scene, as one points out above, is a key differentiator).

    I’d spend this entire post talking about the differences for purposes of getting a higher grade, but in stark contrast to colleagues’ assessments Thursday night, I’d prefer to stick to substantive meaning than impress our Professor. (Who, I’ll note publically and boldly, handled what could have dissipated into unprofessionalism Thursday night in one of, if not the most, professional manner I have ever seen, and Professor, you are to be commended for that.)

    I referenced Springsteen last week, and this week it is even more fitting. In the 1980 rarely-played, “Highway Patrolman,” Springsteen sings of two close brothers who loved each other to the point they’d die for each other, the narrator lamenting, “man turns his back on his family, he ain’t no friend of mine,” a sentiment which I feel is reflected in both the original version of this play and the one we saw.

    I too prefer Morten Kiil over the reading of the character of Alex Morton. The speech in the ending of Boged’s version is also very Springsteenesque – there is a strong undercurrent, in my purview, throughout the course of this play, that says, ‘even if we do wrap up happy and all perfect [which of course is not necessarily true], there are harsher realities in this life to be dealt with.’

    In two different ways, this point remains consistent in both versions – and I’d have to say I like both equally for these different reasons.