SSA students bringing 'An Enemy of the People' to stage

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A story of betrayal and the power of common men comes to life when Shady Side Academy students present “An Enemy of the People.”

“The whole story is about making you realize you have power if you're honest,” said Julian Schwartz, a junior who landed the lead role of Dr. Thomas Stockmann.

“Everyone stabs my character in the back but then you realize he's a hero.”

Curtains rise on the production at 7 p.m. Nov. 1, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Nov. 2, and 2 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts on the senior school campus, 423 Fox Chapel Road.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for students.

Written in 1882 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, the plot focuses on the struggle of morality.

Theater Director Dana Hardy-Bingham said she was inspired by this show because of its accessible and relevant themes.

“Ibsen was a man who was way ahead of his time considering this play was written in 1882 but still seems relevant to high school students today,” she said. “I love the idea of standing up for what you believe in, even if you're standing alone.”

Hardy-Bingham said the modern adaptation, set in present-day small-town America, examines truth, power, corruption and the nature of mass hysteria.

“I think it will give the audience much to discuss after leaving,” she said.

With more than 20 students working on stage and behind the scenes, Hardy-Bingham said they “are gelling together as a team.”

Student production leaders are Abbie Minard as assistant director, Annie Liu as stage manager and Sydney Ayers as lighting director.

Because it's set in modern times, the set was simpler to construct than for a period piece, Hardy-Bingham said. The costumes, too, were easier to develop this year since actors were asked to bring their characters to life through their own choice of clothes.

“I get to wear heels, which is silly, but fun because I'm short,” said Elizabeth Herrington, a senior. “I also have a power suit.”

After landing the female lead of Mayor Miranda Stockmann, Herrington said she's already feeling nervous to take the stage.

It has been since middle school that she's participated in the school dramas.

“I love the feeling right before you go on when you just hope it goes well,” said Herrington, 18. “Then when you come off and you're like, ‘Wow. It all came together.'”

Schwartz, 16, is in his third year of performing. With more lines to memorize than ever before, he is rising to the challenge of creating the character of a 40-year-old scientist.

“I'm pretty good a memorization but this is a lot,” he said. “It's fun to find these nuances that I think he would have, like changing my voice a little or creating certain mannerisms.”

Both he and Herrington agreed that the audience would be inspired by the integrity of the plot.

“It shows a lot about making sacrifices,” Herrington said. “It's about what's good for an individual against what's good for the majority.”

Hardy-Bingham said she believes the actors can pull off the intense dialogue.

“Making sure we play the older characters in a believable manner is going to be a challenge but I know they can do it,” she said.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 412-968-3040. They also will be available at the door on a limited basis.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

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