Our first production of 2019 is a one-man adaptation of George Orwell’s classic parable, Animal Farm. It will be directed by Geordie Brookman in his final show as Artistic Director of the company.
Our adaptation of Animal Farm will see actor Renato Musolino inhabit upwards of 20 characters onstage. It’s an ambitious and demanding production that will take the artistic partnership between Brookman and Musolino to new heights.
In Geordie’s first production as Artistic Director, Renato stepped in last-minute to perform in another solo-performer work: Sue Smith’s The Kreutzer Sonata, an adaptation of Tolstoy’s novella of the same-name. This time, Musolino will bring his virtuosic skills to breathe life to the work of another literary great as he embodies the animals of George Orwell’s Manor Farm.
Post-Truth & Fake News: A Modern Adaptation of A Classic
When asked about the resonance of Orwell’s text in 2019, Geordie Brookman looked at how the contemporary world mirrors the world which originally inspired Orwell.
Geordie Brookman: Animal Farm appeared as a response to the rise of authoritarian governments in the 1930’s and 40’s, particularly in Europe. The big thing for us was the very noticeable move we’ve into what’s been called a ‘post-truth’ world, where objective facts don’t make up the news. Where feeling and opinion becomes fact. Or treated as fact. It creates a world or a landscape where people, or classes of them, are made into villains. A place where, as Orwell said, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.
What’s interesting is that when people speak about post-truth, they speak about it as if it’s something new and it’s not. It’s age-old, it’s a human reflex-action… propaganda has been around forever. Human’s find fiction comforting, particularly if it simplifies their world. It’s just that post-truth is more prevalent and powerful now than it ever was. We can create our worlds so that we have our own opinions enforced and we’re never forced to question ourselves. Animal Farm is a text that speaks to this idea, both in its modern and historical contexts, and its relationship to power.
The Black Mirror
According to Geordie, when looking at how the idea of how authoritarian power is established and corrupt despots can take control he just looked down at his phone for inspiration.
GB: The piece is a parable, it’s a fairy-tale. And at its heart, it speaks about our relationship to power. And how we often find it comforting to have critical decision-making taken away from us. How we don’t actually take full responsibility for our lives and our community. It also looks at our relationship to truth and how it’s easier to accept versions of the truth, or untruths or lies when the truth will, in fact, require us to act.
I think Animal Farm speaks really directly to our innate drift towards cowardice.
The everyday part of Animal Farm for me, the idea that’s driven the set and visual nature of the show is the idea of the black mirror. The pool… the narcissistic pool that our phones have become that we lose ourselves in. We lose ourselves in the news cycle, we lose ourselves in these devices that reflect us, our ideas, our points of view back at us. And I think that stunts growth, it stunts our curiosity, and it stunts our imagination.