Animal Farm

Theatre, Drama
A windmill silhouetted by haze lit by fire
Photograph: Supplied New Theatre takes another look at Orwell's dystopian Animal Farm

Time Out says

Lean into the dystopian vision of 2020 with a new adaptation of the dark Orwell classic

There’s one school of thought that during the rolling poop-storm that is 2020, what we really need to do is mainline the light and fluffy stuff. But leaning into dystopian visions can offer a great deal of catharsis too, not unlike screaming into your pillow of a morn.

If you fall into the latter ‘know thine stinky enemy’ camp, then perhaps what this accursed year really calls for is the darkly satirical insight of 1984 author George Orwell. At least, that’s what the gang at indie outfit New Theatre are counting on. They’ll present a brand-new adaptation of Orwell’s other most famous work, Animal Farm. The novella is all about holding a mirror up to society, and the author was so deeply affected by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War that he penned the biting allegorical work as a criticism of Stalin’s iron grip on the Soviet Union. Did the Russian Revolution just deliver another devil? Is Kylie right about "better the devil you know"?

Perhaps the most famous line in Animal Farm belongs to ambitious pig Napoleon, who, in plotting the downfall of cruel farmer Mr Jones, sets himself up as no better when he says: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

This latest take is written and will be directed by emerging theatre-maker and VCA graduate Saro Lusty-Cavallari. Acknowledging the text’s timeless message, he says: “Coming of age around the Global Financial Crisis, with climate change constantly looming over everything and the resurgence of fascism in the last few years, I feel an affinity for texts like Animal Farm that essentially challenge us to radically reimagine the limits of how we organise society.”

Lusty-Cavallari says the New Theatre team are glad to be back in their Newtown digs and staging performances once more, even if now socially spread out. “When the whole world is kind of falling apart, delaying a play is hardly your biggest worry, and even before we had to postpone rehearsals, it was clear that most of us were too anxious and distracted to work properly,” he says. “When we returned to the play, the text seemed even more immediate, and all these disturbing parallels started popping up.”

Animal Farm's cast includes Kevin Batliwala, Anika Bhatia, Sue Broberg, Zoe Crawford, Ben Dewstow, Laura Djanegara, Imogen French, Lachlan Stevenson and Tiffany Wong, and the socially spaced run will stretch from October 13 to November 7. So doomsayers, make like Napoleon and getting rolling in Orwell’s muck once more. 

Digging the dark classics? Check out a new look at Macbeth online

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