Sunday, March 29, 2009

Disinfecting the Spa

In An Enemy of the People most of the town is willing to ignore their polluted waters as long as the local spa makes money. "Why can't we just disinfect the spa?" asks Mayor Stockman. They can but it will take time and money.

The 2005 Journal of the Balneological Society of Japan reports that several spas in Japan used chlorine. Unfortunately the quantity required to kill the infection was so large that it resulted "in promotion of the oxidation of aging of human skins contrarily to what is to expected to be beneficial in hot spring water bathing."

A 2007 patent describes an alkaline electrolyte solution and carbon filters designed to decompose unwanted contaminants and purge them from the water. The patent claims that previous methods of disinfecting have been expensive and impractical, "causing degradation of water quality" and have given "rise to drug-resistant organisms."

Glenwood Hot Springs in Colorado strikes a balance between chemical and non-chemical solutions. "While we utilize a million dollar, state-of-the-art ozone purification system, we are still required by State Health Department regulations to maintain chlorine residual in our pools. Our water is monitored 24 hours a day to ensure the utmost in purity for our customers."

CNET describes ozone purification as "a mini-lightning storm" turning 02 into 03 and piping it into the water, but warns that it must be monitored as "large concentrations of ozone can be harmful to people."

While solutions are out there, the Mayor insists on keeping the spa open while one is found. His sibling will not tolerate this. Thus begins the conflict.

An Enemy of the People runs May 4-30.
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stella Adler on the Stockman Brothers

Stella Adler (1901 - 1992) ran a celebrated Method Acting Conservatory for four decades. In her book Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strinberg and Chekov (Vintage Books, Random House reprint 2000) she praises Henrik Ibsen's work and the moral ambiguity of his play An Enemy of the People.

In the play, Dr. Thomas Stockman is pitted against his brother the Mayor. In some ways, Adler writes, Thomas is a typical Ibsen protagonist:

"In Ibsen, the hero is in conflict with the social and moral system that he lives under.... Ibsen laughed at what the middle class considered honorable. He attacked the institution of marriage. He was highly skeptical of standard ideals of family and friendship. He said they were all open to discussion."

In other ways he's very unusual:

"Most men in Ibsen are overprofessionalized. Competition and their need for success leave them nothing for the family. Ibsen lets the Doctor off the hook- he works all day but is with his sons at night, aware of them and his wife. It is the last happy family man in a realistic play. He is the portrait of an ideal man. Dr. Stockman is probably Ibsen's first and maybe only positive hero."

While his brother, Peter, is the antagonist, Adler argues that:

"Ibsen builds this very carefully. You do not. You right away see the Mayor as a villain. He is not the villain. Be very careful of that. He is simply practical. Ibsen gives you an absolutely valid argument of an official man who represents an official idea that is excellent."

At the same time, in Ibsen there are no true "heroes."

"Ibsen aims to trap you. He introduces you to a man who is good and you side with him. But in the second act you recognize that he isn't as good as you thought he was. Ibsen catches you by making the character both right and wrong... Perhaps, then, you go home with some other idea that belongs exclusively to you, to solve it for yourself. Ibsen seldom solves it for you."

Red Tape Theatre's adaptation of An Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009.
Purchase tickets through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spa Scandals

In Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People the water source of a lucrative spa is polluted and the town officials scramble to cover it up. I’ve been researching similar scandals for Red Tape’s contemporary adaptation. Here are some of my favorites.

Shirahone Hot Springs, Japan, 2004
The owners were caught dyeing their waters white to maintain the springs
“milky color” and selling bottled spring water that was actually boiled tap
water. The Mayor’s son told the press “We have sinned.”

Beijing’s Hot Springs, China, 2007
When two thirds of the cities resorts failed bacteria tests the bureau of
health advised visitors to “take showers before and after bathing.”

The pollution in An Enemy of the People was caused by city regulated dumping of local agribusiness. Waste regulations are just as controversial today.

Rockwell City’s Pig Lagoons, Iowa, 2003
State certified “odor inspectors” study hog farm smells to determine
regulations after a series of lawsuits accuse farmers of decreasing property
values with their pig waste lagoons.

British Petroleum and Lake Michigan, Indiana, 2007
And a little closer to home, it took massive public uproar to overturn
British Petroleum’s permit to increase their chemical dumps into Lake Michigan.

An Enemy of the People performs May 4-30, 2009.
Buy tickets at

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ibsen's Legacy

March 20, 2009 is the 181st anniversary of Henrik Ibsen's birth. His legacy is larger than his body of work, having influenced generations of playwrights.
  • Luigi Pirandello: “After Shakespeare I unhesitatingly place Ibsen first.”
  • Eugene O’Neill found Ibsen: “Much nearer to me than Shakespeare.”
  • Anton Chekov was first exposed to Ibsen through poor translations. Once he came closer to the source material he proclaimed: “You know Ibsen is my favorite writer.”
Michael Meyer concludes his biography, Ibsen (1967), with the following thoughts:

“Ibsen’s contribution to the theatre was threefold, and in each respect the drama owes more to him than to any other dramatist since Shakespeare. Firstly, he broke down the social barriers which had previously bounded it. He was the first man to show that high tragedy could be written about ordinary people and in ordinary everyday prose, and the importance of that seemingly simple achievement can hardly be exaggerated… Before Ibsen, tragedy had (always excluding Buchner) concerned itself with kings and queens, princes and princesses or, at the lowest, Montagues and Capulets. .. He was not the first dramatist to attempt this, [but the first] that got off the ground.

His second contribution – He threw out the old artificialities of plot which … Shakespeare and Schiller were also guilty: mistaken identities, overheard conversations, intercepted letter sand the like. It was a slow and painful process to rid himself of these; something of the old machinery is still there as late as A Dolls House, but his last ten plays are free of it.

Equally important he developed the art of prose dialogue, to a degree of refinement which has never been surpassed; not merely the different ways people talk, and the different language they use under differing circumstances, but the double-density dialogue which is his peculiar legacy, the sub-text, the meaning behind the meaning.”

Red Tape Theatre presents Robert Oakes' original adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People from May 4-30, 2009.
Tickets are available on our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red Tape Welcomes New Company Members!

Red Tape just keeps on growing this season! We are proud to introduce you to our newest company members!

Cynthia Carney, Company Manager
Cynthia Carney has a BA in Technical Theater with a concentration in Stage Management from Columbia College Chicago. She has had the opportunity to Stage Manage and Assistant Stage Manage for several shows at Columbia College Chicago including Company (SM), The Rocky Horror Show (SM), and West Side Story (SM). Cynthia also was the ASM for West Side Story at Theater Downtown in Orlando, Fl. She has also Stage Managed with Walt Disney World’s theater group S.T.A.G.E (Society of Theater Arts for Growth and Expression). Cynthia first opportunity to Stage Manage with Red Tape was Dog in a Manger in 2008 and then the Fresh Eyes Project in 2009; she was asked to stick around. She is very excited to be working with Red Tape Theater as a Company Member.

Daria Davis, Producer of the Fresh Eyes Project
Daria Davis is tremendously pleased to join Red Tape Theatre Company. Daria joined Red Tape as a director and dramaturge for the 2009 Fresh Eyes Festival, an endeavor Daria will helm next season. When she’s not becoming a new company member at Red Tape Daria freelances as a director, and is currently working with Second Story's Spring Festival, ATC’S Big Shoulders festival, and Sansculottes Theater Company. Daria is currently the Literary Apprenticeship at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Mark Chaitin, Director of Education and Ourtreach
Mark is an actor, director, producer and choreographer. In Chicago, he has worked as a performer with Redmoon Theatre's Lunatique, New Leaf Theatre, and as a director for RedTape Theatre. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, he is the Producing Artistic Director for the Pittsburgh Pride Play Festival. While in Pittsburgh, he has worked with Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park, Pandora’s Box Theatre, Open Stage Theatre and City Theatre. He was the Choreographer for Bat Boy: The Musical with Pittsburgh Musical Theater, The Dirty Pig Dancers: A Modern Burlesque with Future Tenant and the Assistant Choreographer for Big Love with the University of Pittsburgh. Mark has worked with Hustlebot Comedy Improv Troupe as the movement coach. In 2008, Mark was an actor with the Zany Umbrella Circus, collaborating on a new circus piece based on the French street performer Philip Petit. Mark was also the 2008 American Cycle Apprentice and Lead Teaching Artist at Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Washington.

Vic May, Company Member
Vic May, originally from the very small town of Viola, IA lived a nomadic existence for several years between Des Moines IA and Wichita KS. He is very happy to have settled in Chicago and to be working with Red Tape Theatre. Recent projects include a performance internship with Redmoon Theatre, Piccolo Theatre's Robinson Crusoe (Prof. MacGuyver), and Theatre Hikes' Dracula (Harker). He willa appear next in Red Tape's An Enemy of the People. Vic is excited to be part of Red Tape and to grow with them as a company.

Meanwhile, rehearsals are underway for Red Tape's adaptation of An Enemy of the People running May 4-30, 2009. Tickets are on sale now!

James D. Palmer, Artistic Director
Paul G. Miller, Managing Director
Myah Shein, Director of Marketing and Communications
Mackenzie Brown, Production Manager
Robert L. Oakes, Ensemble Member
Robert Hankins, Ensemble Member Emeritus
Erin Hood, Ensemble Member Emeritus

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Donnelley Foundation Awards Red Tape

Red Tape Theatre is proud to announce that the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has honored our four seasons of growth with a generous grant in general operations!

The Donnelley Foundation honors the value and legacy of the founders by focusing on two of the conditions crucial to vital human communities: a healthy natural environment and artistic expression.

Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming adaptation of An Enemy of the People. (May 4-30, 2009).