Public Enemy: Flint

Goodman Theatre is proud to be supporting partner in Public Enemy: Flint, a response by national, and international arts and community organizations to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Usually known in English as An Enemy of the People, Henrik Ibsen’s play (which will also be presented on the Goodman stage in our own production directed by Robert Falls in the spring of 2018) is about a town facing a major pollution crisis. The play was written in 1882, but its modern resonance is obvious – especially in the city of Flint.

Public Enemy: Flint was conceived by Purni Morell and Christian Roe, who were touring in the US in 2015. Struck by media reports of the water crisis, they were reminded of Ibsen’s play, which, in addition to being about contamination, asks deeper questions about the nature of democracy and the power citizens have to change their circumstances.  When Purni and Christian and their company, fieldwork UK, approached us about this project, we were inspired by their vision and drive and were happy to offer our support.  Working with a new adaptation of the original text by Ms. Morrell, the action has been updated to the present day and features a diverse cast of theatre artists from all over the country.

Despite the initial national outrage, Flint remains without safe and clean water. With the news media moving on, and America in post-election turmoil, this project is not about bringing a play about a water crisis to a city which is living with a water crisis – it’s about moving political debate out of the buildings in which it normally takes place and re-awakening it in the community itself.  Of course, a theatre production is not able to offer an immediate solution to the water crisis but what it can do is bring a fresh energy to existing debates and obstacles to progress. By bringing artists from across the US together with people of all sections of Flint society, including law-makers, community organizers and residents, and discussing some of these underlying conditions this production intends to create a wider discussion about what regular citizens can do to effect change in their communities.

Purni and Christian asked a young mother in Flint last year how she felt about outsiders coming into Flint to do a performance about the water crisis. She said, “if my neighbor’s house is on fire, what do I do, do I just watch and do nothing because it isn’t my house? No, I get involved, because that person is in need, and he’s my neighbor. So after that it’s just about where you put the lines – who is your neighbor and who isn’t. I think we’re all neighbors in the end so the way I see it, we all have to get involved with each other.”

The following “neighbors” are partners in supporting this project:

University of Michigan – Flint Department of Theatre and Dance
Flint MI

Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village
Flint, MI

M.A.D.E. Institute
Flint MI

Goodman Theatre
Chicago, IL

Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Berkeley, CA

Detroit Public Theatre
Detroit, MI

Center Stage
Baltimore, MD

Chautauqua Theater Company
Chautauqua, NY

People’s Light
Malvern, PA

fieldwork
United Kingdom

Performances of Public Enemy: Flint will be free to the public at

Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village
4119 Saginaw Street
Flint, MI, 48505

June 8th, 9th, and 10th, 2017.
6:00 p.m.

No reservation is required.

You may donate directly to Public Enemy: Flint
Or spread the word on Facebook.

If you have questions or want further information, feel free to contact fieldwork UK at publicenemyflint [at] hotmail.com.