Because of their strong friendship, Anthony DiNicola '07 and Willi Yusah '09 refer to each other as brothers. This weekend, they get to act the part as brothers torn apart by corruption in Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People."

"One of my biggest concerns is being genuine, and it's automatic being genuine as brothers when I'm onstage with Anthony, my brother," Yusah said.

For Yusah, "An Enemy of the People" will be his first play as an actor. His role is that of Dr. Stockman, a scientist who discovers that pollution is contaminating the town's tourist baths.

Yusah's role includes a lengthy monologue in which he gathers the town's citizens together and rants against their refusal to recognize the pollution issue. The monologue runs for nine pages of text, presenting a challenge for any actor, let alone a beginner.

DiNicola plays Peter Stockman, the town mayor who turns against his brother because of the pollution issue.

DiNicola expressed admiration for what Yusah has accomplished in his first role.

"Willi's our anchor, and he's done a phenomenal job of pulling this ship in," DiNicola said. "He's never taken the stage before and now he's taken it full force. He's so truthful in the town scene that, in rehearsal, I broke character and started nodding, agreeing with what he said."

Yusah credits Associate Professor of Theater Davis Robinson, who is directing the play, with helping him master the text and get over his "fear of puking." Robinson, in turn, recognized the work that the actors have done in delving into their characters.

"Because Anthony and Willi have done improv together and because they're friends, the bond that brothers have is already there," Robinson said. "Who knows, they might be enemies by the time it's over."

For Yusah and DiNicola, the reality of Ibsen's play and the decision to stage the play in the round (where the audience is seated around the stage, usually in a circle) furthered their transformation into the Stockman brothers.

"Before I go onstage, my first instinct is to review the lines, but now I just go out and it's action and reaction," Yusah said.

He continued, "The reality of the text and the characters will take care of themselves."

"This play is a huge gift as an actor, with deep, interesting characters," DiNicola said. "I have to be this character, and there's no point where I can be Anthony because the audience will see Anthony. I can't hide a gesture, a breath, a glance. It's a tight little space we're working in and everything counts."

When deciding how to stage the play, Robinson imagined a boxing ring as the central image. By staging it in the round, the audience is always close the action and can see the drama unfold from different perspectives.

"People feel implicated themselves and it's continually reflective," Robinson said. "As an actor, there's nowhere to hide and it's three-dimensional the whole time. You're naked as an actor."

The psychology of Ibsen's play also provided ample material for Robinson and his actors. "An Enemy of the People" poses questions about the minority versus the majority, and what is right versus what is right at the moment.

"Ibsen's good at the nuances of psychological argument," Robinson said. "The real issue is: 'What makes an entire town turn on somebody on what's true? What is the shelf life of a truth? When's the right time to pick a fight?'"

When asked what people should expect from the play, Yusah said, "Let yourself be affected and engaged. Get rid of good and evil."