One of the most influential and ground-breaking novels in English literature, George Orwell’s dystopian parable tells of the rebellion of the animals on Manor Farm against the cruel farmer Mr. Jones.
A new order is established, a perfect society where all animals are equal, but gradually unease and fear take hold as the leader Napoleon and his class of pigs become rulers of the farm and set about destroying their rivals.
This is the story of how a revolution goes wrong. How the genuine disaffection of those in desperate need of change becomes weaponised and putrefied by a ruthless political class. From the brutal Stalinist regime that prompted Orwell in 1945 to write the story, to the empty promises of today’s demagogues, Animal Farm is a chilling reminder of how absolute power is seized and how it’s retained.
This is a new adaptation by Australian theatre-maker Saro Lusty-Cavallari, who is also directing this production in his New Theatre debut.
“Coming of age around the GFC, with climate change constantly looming over everything and the resurgence of fascism in the last few years, I definitely 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. “To bring Animal Farm to life in 2020, especially after our society has just faced another challenge to its sustainability with the coronavirus pandemic, is to ask of the audience ‘can we do better?’ ‘Is this all there is?’ ”
Lusty-Cavallari sees parallels between the story and the Covid-19 era.
“A key motif in Animal Farm is the betrayal of sacrifice, that those animals that give their all are never rewarded with what they’re promised. I can already see that happening with nurses, essential workers and the less well-off who have sacrificed so much during the pandemic. ‘We’re all this together’ is what we’re told but of course we know at the end of the day that the same inequalities just reassert themselves.
Lusty-Cavallari’s cast includes Kevin Batliwala, Anika Bhatia, Sue Broberg, Zoe Crawford, Ben Dewstow, Laura Djanegara, Imogen French, Lachlan Stevenson and Tiffany Wong.