Main Street Theater


Henrik Ibsen's


This Great and Timeless Portrait of a Man of Conscience

Directed by Patti Bean

Main Street Theater
2540 Times Blvd. in the University Village

January 8 through February 8, 1998

Ibsen pitted himself against a mighty force when he wrote An Enemy Of The People. When Dr. Stockmann learns that his town's medicinal spring waters are poisoned by pollution upstream, he is urged by all the interested parties to say nothing. He believes he's saved the town and will be justly feted, but the authorities, including his own brother, the mayor, disagree. They try to stop him from spreading news of the contamination and turn his friends, supporters and, eventually, the whole town against him.

When Patti Bean was asked to direct this production, she realized it was an opportunity to take her skills and sensibilities honed on contemporary theater and apply them to a modern classic. Bean, who has directed behind such popular productions as The Woman in Black, Six Degrees of Separation and La Nona, has found that the themes of public accountability and personal integrity about which Ibsen was writing over a century ago are still at the heart of theater today. Bean also believes that in its final moments, the play's confidence in future generations reflects a contemporary optimism.



Henrik Ibsen was born at Skien, Norway, in 1828. After years of failure and poverty, he emigrated at the agen of thirty-six to Italy, and wrote Brand, which brought him immediate fame. He remained in self imposed exile for twenty-seven years, living in Rome, Dresden, and Munich. In 1891, he returned to Norway, and spent the last fifteen years of his life in Christiania (now Oslo). He died there in 1906. Ibsen wrote twenty-six plays, sixteen of which are still performed in England and America
-----from Ghosts and Three Other Plays
translated by Michael Meyer. Anchor Books, 1966

Henrik Ibsen holds a very key position in the history of European drama. The golden age of the theatre...was barely a memory at the beginning of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, the theatres were full --- but they played melodramas and farces; on the other, the great creative artists of the century.....tried their hand at drama only to find that what they had written was unactable "closet drama".....Ibsen changed all that by introducing real people in real situations, by tackling the political and social issues of the day, and by changing with some regret from poetry to prose. Bernard Shaw in England grasped the possibilities of these did Chekhov in Russia.

-----John Grube, Introduction to Henrik Ibsen, Four Major Plays.
Airmont Publishing Company, Inc., 1966

The play is a story of a scientist who discovers an evil and innocently believing that he has done a service to humanity, expects that he will at least be thanked. However, the town has a vested interest in the perpetuation of that evil, and his "truth," when confronted with that interest, must be made to conform. The scientist cannot change the truth for any reason disconnected with the evil. He clings to the truth and suffers the social consequences. At rock bottom, then, the play is concerned with the inviolability of objective truth. Or, put more dynamically, that those who attempt to warp the truth for ulterior purposes must inevitably become warped and corrupted themselves.

-----Arthur Miller, Preface to Arther Miller's adaptation of
An Enemy of the People. Penguin Books, 1977



Dr. Thomas Stockmann
Medical Officer of the Municipal Baths..................................Kent Johnson
Mrs. Stockmann, his wife.......................................................Charlene Hudgins
Petra Stockmann, their daughter, a teacher.............................Celia Montgomery
Ejlif Stockmann, their son.......................................................Peter Babb
Morten Stockmann, their son..................................................Chris Joslin

Peter Stockmann
The Doctor's elder brother, Mayor of the Town.......................James R. Raby
Morten Kiil, a tanner (Mrs. Stockmann's adoptive father..........Charlie Trotter
Hovstad, editor of the "People's Messenger"............................Michael LaPrade
Billing, sub-editor.....................................................................Joseph E. Hudson
Captain Horster.......................................................................John Kaiser
Aslasken, a printer...................................................................Andrew Dawson
Citizens...................................................................................Henry Gallipp, Leila Kousheshi, Kirk Mashue, Andrew Menzel, Jeffrey Plummer


Interview with Kent Johnson
Dr. Thomas Stockmann of An Enemy of the People

by Theresa Hyde

Kent Johnson has appeared in numerous productions at MST, including Good Housekeeping, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Pride and Prejudice, Oedipus, Chekhov in Yalta, Major Barbara, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, Hamlet, and Marat/Sade. He also directed MST's production of Just So Stories. Elsewhere, he has appeared at The Alley, Stages, Actors Theatre of Houston, Chocolate Bayou Theatre, the Commerce Street Artists Warehouse, the Houston Shakespeare, Shaw, and Children's Theatre Festivals, and The Group. He also toured nationally with Alpha Omega Players. Since 1993 he has performed his one-man show about the life of Miguel de Cervantes for Young Audiences of Houston. Mr. Johnson holds a B.A. from Austin College and also studied at Circle in the Square in New York City. He presently serves as an instructor in the theatre department of Episcopal High School.

THyde: Great performance. Tell us about the part that you're playing.
KJohnson: Dr. Stockmann. I think he's a supreme idealist. A most irritatingly so. He gets to the point that you know, sometimes you wanna stay stop! Too much! And I think he's very naiive in that sense of the word. Somebody asked me last night if I think he matures by the end of the play, and I really don't. I think he, in fact, gets even more immature because he doesn't stop to listen to people, he just gets so caught up in his ideas. He keeps barrelling on through, plowing on through.

THyde: Have you done period pieces like this before?
KJohnson: Yeah. Especially at Main Street, because they specialize in a lot of literary classics and period pieces, and drawing room comedies, and Oscar Wilde, and different things.....

THyde: Your performance sort of reminded me of the Jimmy Stewart-type.....where, you know he represents the common good and he's up against public opinion.
KJohnson: (Laughs) That's true.....Yeah, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But the difference is, Jimmy Stewart is the big hero in the end, and some ways he's (Dr. Stockmann) kinda of an anti-hero. I don't think he necessarilly should be glorified. I don't think he has the great qualities that some of the characters you see.

THyde: How did you get to be a part of this?
KJohnson: I've been with Main Street off and on for the last 20 years. I think Becky (Udden, Main Street Theatre Artistic Director) was thinking of me a lot when she was choosing for the part. She knows my work really well. I'm also of Norwegian descent, so I have a vested interest in Ibsen, being Norwegian.

THyde: Tell us about your past background. How long have you been acting?
KJohnson: Probably 20-ish years here in Houston, I'm 42. I graduated from Austin College back in 1978. And since then, I've been in Houston, working here a lot and other theatres. I have a job at the Episcopal High School as the Theatre teacher there. The director of the play (Patti Bean) is another teacher.....we're both at the school. The guy who did out lights also, works at the High School.

THyde: Who are your most favorite actors?
KJohnson: Oh, I like Ian McKellan, he's a very famous actor in London. Oddly enough, we just finished doing a turn in this play in London within this last year or so. DeNiro, you know, all those kinds of people, except he gets stuck in those gangster roles now. I really tend to look more towards a lot of the theatre actors that we don't always know of and not necessarily famous. When you watch them work, and when I go to London or New York to see them onstage, I'm really riveted by watching stage work. Ian McKellan, probably right now, he's one of my idols.

THyde: What qualities do you look for in an actor?
KJohnson: Don't bump into the furniture, remember your lines......(Laughs)

THyde: How do you do remember all those lines? You had so many.......
KJohnson: We started about a month and a half ago. You just take it one page at a time, and Jessica De La Rose, our stage manager, will tell you that I don't remember them all.....(more laughs). She knows them better than any of us.

THyde: Who influenced you as an artist?
KJohnson: My dad had a lot to do with it 'cause he's was a singer in the Church. I would watch all these different actors, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, all those people in films. A lot of the British actors influenced me more than a lot of the American actors. Sometimes, I think I get kinda of a 'style' that way, which is good and bad, because you get the stiffness of Brit. Right now, a lot of those more progressive people like Ian, they influence me now more. Or Kevin Kline.

Interview with Charlene Hudgins
Mrs. Stockmann of An Enemy of the People

by Theresa Hyde

Charlene Hudgins has appeared at Main Street Theatre in Much Ado About Nothing. She is the Artistic Director for The Gypsy Theatre Company for which she has directed numerous productions. Ms. Hudgins teaches at Houston Community College.

THyde: Have you done period pieces like this before?
CHudgins: Oh, yes.

THyde: How long have you been acting?
CHudgins: Well, let see.......(laughs)......I did my first play when I was 7 years old. So, for about 10 years. (More laughs) No, I'm the same age as Kent. And we've got very similar backgrounds.

THyde: Tell us about your role as the Artistic Director of The Gypsy Theatre Company.
CHudgins: As the name would imply, Gypsy Theatre Company goes from space to space, we rent space. The purpose of the theatre is to promote and celebrate women in theatre. It came from the idea that.....(this play's a perfect example) have wonderful plays out there, wonderful literature, and contemporary plays being written, and there will be 10 male roles, and 2 female roles.

And when you go to the auditions, the really weird part is there will always be more women auditioning than men. So I said, "What's wrong with this picture?" I set out least in my own little equalize that situation. And sort of level the playing field. We are a feminist theatre company, but we do not exclusively do feminist theme plays. The rule is that you can do plays, but there has to be an equal number of women to men ratio. Doesn't have to be more women than men, just as least as many women as there are men.

THyde:: It gives more opportunity to women.
CHudgins: Yeah, more employment opportunities.

THyde: Tell us about the part that you're playing in The Enemy of the People.
CHudgins: This is an unusual part for me to play. I'm playing sort of a normal wife and mom, who's found herself in the middle of a scandal and a crisis. The whole nine yards, and having to deal with it in a real normal mom way. Normally, I play sort of, mental cases, (laughing) so this has been a real stretch for me. I've had to work on this.....I've had to think of what my mom does.

THyde: (Laughs) Mental Cases? What has been your favorite roles?
CHudgins: I just finished doing a play at TheatreLaB called Silence, Cunning, Exile, in which I played a real Mental Case. It was a wonderful experience, but (whispers) - that's not all I do. It seems that's what I've done lately. This is a woman who suffered through alcoholism, to have a nervous breakdown, and then at the end of the play she gets to tell off the hero. It was a wonderful part.

THyde: How did you become a part of this production?
CHudgins: Patti (Bean), being the director actually called me and asked me to come read for the part. There were two other women that she had called to come read for it as well, fortunately she picked me. And I am.

THyde: Who is your favorite actress?
CHudgins: Emma Thompson. Her face says so much without doing anything. Incredible.

THyde: What qualities do you look for in an actor / actress?
CHudgins: Well, I think the choices that actors make, ought to be interesting as well as believable. I mean, there's such a spectrum of believability that a lot of actors don't account for. A lot of actors play it safe, and make choices that are real and believable. But, really when I'm watching someone, I'd like to watch the actor who's made a bold choice, and yet has managed to keep it believable.

THyde: Who influenced you as an artist?
CHudgins: As a kid growing up, I had two working parents, so I watched a lot of television. I am really a child of the media. And I think that had a profound impact on me as a little girl growing up. And I would think......this is what I want to do. Television was my exposure to Acting. To be perfectly honest, I don't think I can pinpoint one person.


Interview with John Kaiser
Captain Horster of An Enemy of the People

by Theresa Hyde

John Kaiser has appeared at Main Street Theatre in Arcadia, An Ideal Husband, and The Miser. Elsewhere, he has appeared with Country Playhouse (Sylvia), Theatre Southwest (Pack of Lies, A Company of Wayward Saints), Express Theatre (Alice in Wonderland), and in numerous readings and performances with Houston Scriptwriters. Mr. Kaiser holds an M.A. from the University of Michigan.

THyde: I remember your performance at The 1997 Scriptwriters Houston 10x10 Play Festival where you were in the comedy, When Knighthood Was Wilting. And you were the Knight......

JKaiser: As the Knight being out of a job......and that's where I met Chris (Joslin) who plays the son (Morten Stockmann) in this play.

THyde: You do a lot of period pieces, don't you?
JKaiser: I do a lot of period. I'm more of a period type than a modern type. Even in my own life.

THyde: Tell us about the part that you're playing here.
JKaiser: My part is very minor. It's more a question of feeding into the main story. I kinda offered the answer to their plight at the end. But it's more.....being the only person who supports the lead guy. I don't say much, as you see, compared to all the people that are against him, but there has to be somebody who's a good guy in it.

I have a house, I have money, and I have the means to answer the issue of what he's gonna do with himself. In a way my personal story is now part of the story, other than I stand by him when his other friends don't. This is a play about your friends turning on you and you have to have somebody who doesn't, to stand against the ones who do.

THyde: Of the roles that you've played, which ones have been your favorite?
JKaiser: I just did something at The Country Playhouse, a play called Sylvia, where I played 3 characters. A woman, a man, and a psychiatrist who was either or both woman and man, and I had to change backstage all the time. That was fun. That was a good part, but that was sort of high comedy.

The play is about a man who becomes terribly involved with a dog that he picks up off the street. He develops a strong emotional attachment to it. And it kind of breaks his marriage up for awhile. I play all the different people in their lives. But that was a fun part, a real change of pace. That was modern, comedy, playing every sex. I don't usually play leads in plays. I usually play supporting characters. Colorful orbiting characters on the main core of the story.

THyde: How did you become a part of this production?
JKaiser: Well, I read for it. They have kind of a general talent pool here that they bring people who have to read for things. There is another play, The Witlings that I really felt was more my kind of thing. It's a period comedy. I'm not gonna be in that one cause it runs against this one. That's playing at the Chelsea Market location starting on February 5th. It opens the same weekend that this closes, it overlaps somewhat. In a way, that was the one that was more typically me. We all came and read for all of them on the same day.

The Main Street Talent pool is widening all the time. It's kind of a core group, but then more and more from the general talent pool in town, people that you associate with other companies are coming to work here. There's a great talent pool here in Houston. The girl that played Petra Stockmann, the daughter (Celia Montgomery) not only works for Infernal Bridegroom Productions, but it's her first show here. Charlene (Hudgins) who has her own company, this is her first show here. So more and more, people who are associated with other groups are working here. It kinda breaks the monotony of seeing the cast over and over. Although that can be fun, too. The Alley, for example has that same great core company.

THyde: What other theatres have you played in?
JKaiser: Country Playhouse, Theatre Southwest, Express Theatre. A lot of smaller groups around town. A lot of these companies are interchanging actors now. It's been up until, really recently, up until this year, it's kind of a basic core in every place. But now, they're trading back and forth than there was, say, in certain theatres, 'resentment' of you if you went and worked somewhere else, that you really weren't part of the group. But they've seen that that brings new audience back to your group. That brings new resources back to your group in terms of borrowing things from other theatres. They'll promote you, they'll put your poster up, so the many companies around town are kind of sharing their resources, sharing cast. You do tend to work with the same people over and over.

THyde:Do you do this full time?
JKaiser: Oh, no. I have to have a day time job to support this. For one thing that's not in this, is money. There's a lot of involvement, a lot of interaction and exchange. But, there's no income to speak of. Even at the Alley. I mean, they work all the time, all the time. They would do something else during the day, something else at night.......

THyde: How long have you been acting?
JKaiser: A long time. I started in High School, in College. When I was in College, I did a lot of things in French. The way my acting, my own theatre approach. That comes more from reading than anything else. I studied European Lit, English Lit. In a way, that's why I gravitated here (MST). Because they do material in that theme, more so than others. And I'm more believable as a period character. But in terms of my taste, it's more formed by writers, than actors. European writers. And Main Street does a lot of that. They are, really, in a sense, the only theatre in town that does those.

THyde: Are you originally from Houston?
JKaiser: No. I came from Boston. I did a lot of shows there, a lot of contemporary classics, Antigone, and Shakespeare. But the Boston Theatre scene is not as organized as the Houston Theatre scene. Normally, people in Texas has a theatrical presence. And the Arts, overall..... Texas is far stronger in the Arts than I was aware of.

I came here to work at the Menil Collection as an editor, when they first opened in '86. And I've been here since then. I was here for many years, and gradually started going out and seeing shows around town, and piqued my interest in being involved in it. I kind of got involved in this from being in the audience of plays, and thinking well these guys are great! I'll see a show and think, I'd like to be in this.

THyde: Who are your most favorite actors?
JKaiser: I would have to say my favorite actor is a TV Actor named Lane Davies, who many people have not heard of. He was in a soap opera that I liked very much. I watch a lot of soap operas and I'm impressed with the performances on them. I know that the genre is a joke, but they, in a sense do complete plays every day, which is an impressive achievement.

And the idea of getting into character is very much the issue. And that kinda serves you onstage, especially in a role like this, where all I basically do is get into character. And hang onto it, and say a few things once in awhile. But mostly it's a question of just character, and focus. And I find that TV, as Charlene says, has a surprisingly good level of acting. TV, more and more, people laugh at it, because it's so formalized. But everything takes on its formality. Quentin Tarantino acquire a pattern and a formality and if you're a fan of it, you like it, and if you're not a fan of it, you think, oh, it's all the same.

THyde: Who influenced you as an artist?
JKaiser: I would say, writers, more than actors. There's an English novelist, Iris Murdoch, who has influenced me tremendously, in terms of thinking of material, the overviews, the psychology of many characters which helps you not think the play is always about you. But the play is about the overview.

Like I say, it's not so much about the theatre writer, as novelists. But I have an unusual attack on these things. As a French major, I've kinda come to it from an unusual spectre. I never intended to get involved in theatre. I sort of came out of the audience, and auditioned, to be in theatre. "Can I be in it?" "Yeah, come on in, you know here, play this, play this, play this."

I don't have an agent. I'm my own agent and not a very good one. But, I don't think of it as a career, it's sort of a social thing. I see it as a wholesome counterpart to Sports. Where nobody has to lose, there is a sense of a team in your company, and yet there are free agents who go to different teams, and it's that kind of thing for me. It's like a Sport, only Everybody Wins.