CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s not something you expect to see at a theater, but the Goodman has set up a science lab to help high school students understand its latest production; a classic that has relevance today.
Before the curtain rose on the Goodman Theatre’s production of a Henrik Ibsen classic An Enemy Of The People, students from Community Links High School performed experiments with water to find out if it was clean or contaminated; and how to purify it.
“We don’t do a lot of that at school. So, to do it on a field trip and see a play is like two field trips,” Moses Ruiz said.
In An Enemy of the People, the lead character, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, tries to warn his fellow citizens their water has been polluted by industry.
The students who conducted the water experiments with Goodman’s education program Stage Chemistry also saw the play.
“We wanted them to understand the issues of environmental justice in ways that you understand better, because you get your hands dirty as opposed to just talking about the issues in class,” said Goodman director of education Willa Taylor.
Ibsen wrote An Enemy of the People more than 100 years ago, but it resonates today in places like Flint, Michigan, where drinking water has had high levels of lead for nearly four years.
“They walk in with all these thoughts about not only what it means for water to be clean or dirty, but also thinking about what water means in our city,” said Anna Gelman, who runs the Stage Chemistry education program at Goodman.
In Ibsen’s play, Dr. Stockmann ultimately failes to convince his town to clean up their water, but the students in the Stage Chemistry program praised the character’s courage.
“It shows other people, if you have something to say or you want to change something, go for it,” Juliana Hirales said.
The Stage Chemistry program at the Goodman explores science, technology and mathematics in theatrical productions.