Nationally-Acclaimed Theater Company to Collaborate with Community on Classic Play Addressing Contemporary Issues

“An Enemy of the People: A Theater Project from America’s Hometown” will present powerful readings and guided discussions to foster connection and positive action in Knox County.


Theater of War Productions, in collaboration with Kenyon College and the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County with support from the Mount Vernon Arts Consortium, is proud to present "An Enemy of the People: A Theater Project from America’s Hometown." This unique initiative will bring together acclaimed actors, elected officials, scientists, journalists and local community members to perform dramatic readings of scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s renowned play, "An Enemy of the People." The project aims to generate connection, understanding, compassion and positive action through guided audience discussions.

In keeping with the format of all Theater of War Productions' events, performers will first read through the text. Afterward, the panelists who are members of the local community will initiate a discussion of what most resonated with them in today’s world. A conversation facilitated by Bryan Doerries '98 H'17, artistic director of Theater of War Productions, will then open to the audience, both in person and virtually.

"An Enemy of the People" tells the story of a doctor who uncovers the contamination of the water supply in his small rural town by a tannery. Despite his efforts to inform the public, the doctor's attempts to save his community from an environmental disaster are met with resistance, and he becomes a scapegoat for his whistleblowing. Originally performed in Norway in 1882, the play's themes resonate strongly with the challenges faced by society today.

The free live events will begin on Saturday, April 6, from 6-9 p.m., at the Knox Memorial Theater located at 112 E. High St. in Mount Vernon. The following day, Sunday, April 7, the event will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Oden Hall, Kenyon College, located at 107 College Drive in Gambier. For those planning to attend in person, seating can be reserved in advance. To attend virtually, register to join via Zoom.

“Theater of War Productions is thrilled to be partnering with the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Kenyon College, and the people of Knox County to develop and present ‘An Enemy of the People: A Theater Project from America’s Hometown,’” said Doerries. “By bringing together a wide variety of local stakeholders — students, educators, elected officials, journalists, scientists and concerned citizens — and collaborating with them to present powerful, dramatic readings of Ibsen’s timeless play, our goal is to create the conditions for healing dialogue that helps bridge the ever-widening divide during this greatly polarizing time."

The events will feature esteemed performers including David Strathairn, known for his roles in "Nomadland," "Lincoln" and "The Bourne Ultimatum;" Elizabeth Marvel, recognized for her work in "Homeland," "Burn After Reading" and "Love & Death;" Bill Camp, acclaimed for his performances in "The Queen's Gambit," "The Night Of" and "Joker;" Matthew T. Starr, mayor of Mount Vernon; Julie Kornfeld, president of Kenyon College; John K. Chidester, library director at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County; Jon Tazewell, Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama and Film at Kenyon College; Peter Marks, former chief theater critic of The Washington Post; Marjolaine Goldsmith, company manager at Theater of War Productions; Osose Omofomah, Kenyon College Class of 2026; and Wendy MacLeod, James Michael Playwright-in-Residence/Professor of Drama at Kenyon College.

The production is still looking to cast local community members to play citizens in the play readings. For more information on how to get involved, please contact

“Fostering important conversations about shared public health challenges is fundamental to living together in a flourishing community,” said President of Kenyon College Julie Kornfeld. “As a member of the Kenyon community and also a resident of Knox County, I look forward to the open exchange of ideas that this production will undoubtedly provoke."

The Kenyon College Bookstore, at 106 Gaskin Avenue in Gambier, will host an information session about "An Enemy of the People: A Theater Project from America's Hometown" on March 26. Doerries will talk about founding the highly-acclaimed Theater of War Production company and its groundbreaking work using ancient texts to launch conversations about contemporary issues.

Also on March 26, The Gund’s new downtown Mount Vernon space for art, The Annex, will host an informal meetup about “An Enemy of the People” from 3-4 pm. The Annex is located at 12 E. Gambier St. in Mount Vernon. Complimentary coffee and snacks will be served.

This project is made possible through the generous support of several organizations, including the Ohio Arts Council, ArtStart Grant, LSTA Competitive Grant Program, National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant, Kenyon Bicentennial Fund, and the Kenyon College Office for Community Partnerships.

For more information about "An Enemy of the People: A Theater Project from America’s Hometown," please contact Theater of War Productions at or visit their website at

Download an image of the cast and Doerries.
Download an image of the cast and Doerries that includes the sponsoring organizations.