By Dena Burroughs -- July 15, 2017
Theater - George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM now at Theatricum
Can humans develop a fair and equal society? If an unfair government is overthrown, will the one that follows be everything that was needed? Those are some of the questions that come to mind after reading George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM (which I trust you may already know since the book is often a required read in classrooms). Sir Peter Hall’s adaptation for the stage of ANIMAL FARM is part of this season’s repertory at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, and you may want to add it to your must-see list for the summer.
At first sight ANIMAL FARM is a fable written for children about animals that get tired of being mistreated by their human master. But that simplicity is actually a tool that Orwell uses to make his commentary about a serious political situation accessible to every reader.
Orwell was a political writer. He sided with democratic socialism and stood against totalitarianism. “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism,” he wrote in an article called “Why I Write.” ANIMAL FARM is no different. In fact, of this novel Orwell said that it “was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.”
ANIMAL FARM is a symbolic narrative of what happened in Russia in the first half of the 20th century. The animals represent the Russian people, who were tired of government mistreatment and felt encouraged by the rise of new thought from people like Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. These men’s ideals - to have every person be equal - proved easier said than done, however. Soon the new folks in power began to act just like their predecessors. This is represented in ANIMAL FARM by the pigs, which take no time consolidating as a ruling class that feels “more equal than others.” At the end, the animals see their hopes of a fair and equal society in ruins, much like humans have seen in the course of history.
ANIMAL FARM is directed by Ellen Geer. The play is definitely interesting and thought provoking. It makes the viewer realize that there’s a minority of humans who use language to control others, while the majority is often apathetic and unwilling to question authority. As a result, terrible people can remain in power.
ANIMAL FARM will perform on selected dates through October 1. Find performing dates and tickets at Theatricum.com or by calling (310) 455 3723.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., in Topanga 90290. Arrive early with a picnic and enjoy the theater’s beautiful surroundings. Bring a jacket as it will be cool in the evening, no matter how hot the day.