What defines a man’s character?

When is a lie better left untold?

How does a leader’s personal life affect his public duties?

Elements Theatre Company tackles these questions in Pillars of the Community. Ibsen provides Karsten Bernick – the leader of a small Norwegian fishing village whose buried secrets begin to haunt him as he is confronted with his past and the people he hurt.  Will he choose a financially secure future, or should he reveal his past to obtain the peace that seems to elude his daily life?

Cast & Staff

Cast & Staff


(in order of their appearance)

Karsten Bernick, a shipbuilder Chris Kanaga
Betty Bernick, his wife Rachel McKendree
Olaf, their son Lily Schuman
Marta Bernick, Bernick’s sister Kate Shannon
Johan Tønnesen, Betty’s younger brother Peter Haig
Lona Hessel, Betty’s elder half-sister Sr. Danielle Dwyer
Hilmar Tønnesen, Betty’s cousin Br. Stephen Velie
Rørlund, a school master Brad Lussier
Dina Dorf, a young girl living in Bernick’s house Stephanie Haig
Knap, Bernick’s clerk Kyle Norman
Aune, foreman of Bernick’s shipyard Brad Lussier
Mrs. Rummel, a neighbor Lexa Hale
Mrs. Holt, wife of the local postmaster Ellen Ortolani
Mrs. Lynge, wife of the local doctor Sr. Pheonix Catlin
Rummel, Vigeland, Sandstad, merchants Kyle Norman, Br. Matthew Gillis, Br. Anthony Kanaga
Hilda, Netta, Townspeople, servants Ellen Ortolani, Sr. Pheonix Catlin, Lexa Hale, Br. Matthew Gillis, Br. Anthony Kanaga, Sr. Seana Shannon


Sr. Danielle Dwyer

Technical Director
Chris Kanaga

To see the entire program or read the program notes click here

News & Reviews

News & Reviews

Elements company strives for authenticity in ‘Pillars’

By Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll, Cape Cod Times Pre-production Interview

When publicist Kate Shannon walked onto the set for “Pillars of the Community” last week, she felt like a few more steps down one of the “hallways” would actually lead her into bedrooms in another part of the house.

The set seemed that real, and it is a sense of reality that is driving much of this first production of a Henrik Ibsen play by Elements Theatre Company in Orleans.


‘Pillars’ is a towering production in Orleans

By Ellen Petry Whalen, Cape Codder

With the country just coming out of a heated election period, Elements Theatre Company’s choice of Ibsen’s thought-provoking “Pillars of the Community” is very apropos, as it examines individual and societal political motivations.


Elements’ production of Pillars stands tall

Written by John Watters, Barnstable Patriot

Stories of evil family machinations are as old as Cain and Abel, and the return of the Prodigal Son has been told for many millenniums, so Henrik Ibsen wasn’t breaking any new ground when he wrote Pillars of the Community in 1877.


Homecoming not always joyful in ‘Pillars’

By Kate Shea Kennon, Cape Cod Times

‘Tis the season for complicated family relationships on display, and Henrik Ibsen’s Bernick family in the “Pillars of the Community” is no different from yours or mine, except perhaps that the patriarch is a prototypical capitalist monster.

The Bernicks consist of difficult stepsisters and black sheep brothers, cousins and ex-beaus, nosy neighbors and judgmental in-laws, all with secrets that threaten to disrupt celebrations.


From the Director

From the Director

Dear Friends,

I had the good fortune of seeing Pillars of the Community several years ago in London with Damian Lewis as Karsten Bernick. This tight knit world of characters Ibsen created captured me immediately. The fierce weapons of gossip and criticism; the protection of reputation bordering on obsession; and the lonely voices crying for a world without judgment and stigma. At the helm of this community, hiding the truth of his past on the catwalk of his empire, is Karsten Bernick. High above everyone, keeping secrets, making deals and planning great things for his community, Karsten is isolated and alone in his brilliance and lies. Only two people know the truth he hides and thankfully for him, they are in America far from the rocky shores of Norway.

But, Ibsen being the dramatist he is, has the “Americans” arrive midway through Act 1 and threaten to destroy Karsten’s world; “one anxious moment, one stray word, and you will lose everything,” these words haunt Karsten and now this pillar of the community must grapple with what he has hidden for years. Will he let his community know all of him?

To lead and to be human at the same time takes great character and strength. To lead from a place of humility requires acceptance and knowledge of your self. To live under this kind of pressure and scrutiny, tests the very fiber of a person’s character. It also asks of those of us in the community—what we require of our leaders, do we require of ourselves?

Ibsen, no stranger to scrutiny or secrets knows the burden these leave on the human psyche and soul. What kind of holes they can burn into a person, stealing their humanity and hope. Rippling through Ibsen’s text is the theme from Apollo’s Temple at Delphi – “Know Thyself.” It is with this perspective Ibsen pleads in his writing for honesty and equality in all relationships— providing hope for a future without secret or lies, no matter who you are in the community.

See and Hear

See and Hear

Pillars Rehearsal

Pillars Load-In

Pre-Shoot Musings