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Broadway Play ‘An Enemy of the People,’ With Jeremy Strong and Michael Imperioli, Interrupted by Climate Protestors

A group of climate change advocates interrupted a Broadway performance of An Enemy of the People, starring Jeremy Strong and Michael Imperioli, on Thursday night.

The Henrik Ibsen revival, which has its own allusions to climate change, was disrupted by three protesters after the brief pause midway through the show, at a time when the house lights were still on and when the characters appear to be addressing the crowd, according to accounts from audience members. The show is currently playing at the Circle in the Square Theatre in midtown Manhattan and was in the midst of press previews before its March 18 opening.

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The first protester came down the aisle and identified themselves as a theater artist who was speaking out about the lack of response to climate change.

“Our water is poison,” the first protester said in a video posted on X by Extinction Rebellion, the climate change advocacy group that has claimed credit for the act. “The oceans are acidifying. The oceans are rising and will swallow this city and this entire theater. I am putting my career on the line because we are not doing anything about this crisis. The water is coming for us. Broadway will not survive a dead planet. There is no Broadway on a dead planet.”

Imperioli and another actor tried to usher the protester out, while Strong appeared to stay in character on stage, saying “Let them speak,” according to Andrew Fick, an audience member who attended Thursday and works in the theater community. An overhead announcement came on asking the actors to leave the stage, but most stayed.

Imperioli later posted about the incident on Instagram, tagging Extinction Rebellion and, appearing to say that he was also staying in character. “Tonight was wild….no hard feelings extinction rebellion crew,” he wrote. “Michael is on your side but mayor stockmann is not. Much love.”

After the first protester, two more spoke out in the theater from the audience and were removed by theater staff, Fick said. The play then resumed.

Spokespeople for the production declined to comment.

The production, which was adapted by Amy Herzog and directed by Sam Gold, sees Strong’s character, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, trying to raise the alarm about harmful bacteria discovered in the town’s spa. However, closing the spa would hurt the town’s economy and the interests of the mayor (played by Imperioli) who tries to prevent the disclosure.

In a press event ahead of the first performance, Gold had said the current climate crisis was “the animating emotional core” of this adaptation. And because of the tie-in several audience members appeared to believe the protests were part of the production.

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