‘It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
Decades after the publication of Orwell’s most famous novel, 1984, that opening line sounds as compelling as ever. The story remains fresh, and terms such as ‘Big Brother’, and ‘Room 101’ have become absorbed into our language. The novel has been translated into more than 65 different languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. ‘Orwellian’ is now shorthand for anything repressive and totalitarian, and the story of Winston Smith continues to resonate as each generation interprets it differently according to the political climate. It could not be more relevant.
Last week, students in Year 9 and above performed an adaptation of this dystopian novel in the QEH Theatre. Two ensembles created Orwell’s terrifying world as party members and the thought police, with movement sequences to portray the monotonous and joyless lives of ordinary people. Will Richmond as Winston Smith captured his spirit as an everyman figure who rebels against the all powerful party.
Emily Anderson as Julia effectively portrayed the recklessness of her nature and showed the brief moments of happiness in the doomed relationship with Winston. Rosie Pleat as O’Brien was chilling in her measured and cold interactions. The whole cast worked incredibly hard to create a world with no freedom or individuality and the technical crew provided atmospheric lighting, sound and projections that made the audience feel like Big Brother was always watching them. The design of all black costumes and set with flashes of red for the symbol of Big Brother was effective and striking.
Whilst it was certainly not light entertainment it certainly gave audiences plenty to think about. Congratulations to all who were involved!