The best piece of Art I have ever been involved in, was a college production of Peter Hall’s (1985) dramatized adaptation of Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945). This adaptation of the book portrays a representation of the truth which outlines the events of the early twentieth century. Although, there appears to be some changes in the text such as, minor characters being omitted, and scenes being compressed; the overall plot remains the same (Hall, 1985: xii-xiii).
Animal Farm is an allegory based on the events leading up to The Russian Revolution (1917) which demolished the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union (Hall, 1985: viii-ix). Orwell emphasises on Marx and Engels concepts of a capitalist to a communist which influenced the demand for political freedom; to revolutionise society (Hall, 1985: v-xiii).
An example of capitalism is demonstrated by Mr. Jones (the owner of Manor Farm) who represents Tsar Nicholas II. The animals on the farm are a representation of the liberal revolutionaries (the workers) who suppress Mr. Jones because he abuses the animals for personal gain (Hall, 1985: viii-ix). Orwell highlights the importance of communism, known as animalism, in which the animal’s rebel against the humans and no longer work for them. Foundational to this, all the animals and humans are a representation of the lives who were affected by The Russian Revolution, including Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and Molotov (Hall, 1985: viii-xi).
I was cast as one of the leading roles, Squealer, who is known for his deceptive, manipulative and convincing manner. Squealer is a representation of Molotov; the one responsible for Snowball’s (Trotsky) death and a central figure in the Soviet government (Kohan and Traver, 1986: 48). I took on the role of Squealer as being stuck up, sly and mischievous, primarily because Squealer had power over the other farm animals. This is evident when Squealer admits that ‘leadership is a pleasure’ (Hall, 1985: 31) and that the pigs should ‘direct the work and give the orders’ (Hall, 1985: 14). Squealer uses the animals lack of intelligence, and inability to recall sudden events to exploit them through his manipulation.
The costume, hair and make-up were excessively messy with the use of paint and mud which reflected how the animals were treated and the conditions they lived in whilst governed by Mr. Jones. Initially, the idea was to create animal costumes, yet, it was crucial that the audience were encouraged to think about the idea of talking animals, who visually were played by humans. Personally, Orwell intended for this to happen to enlighten the audience about the representation of these farm animals and how important re-telling this story has become, especially to those living in a capitalist society.
The story of Animal Farm represents a great deal of importance, not only because of the events that took place in 1917, but rather the concepts and themes which are still relevant today. Although most countries, including the United Kingdom are capitalist, there are a very few countries who consider themselves as communist, such as China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam (ThoughtCo., 2018). It has been shown that the principles of capitalism and communism articulated by Marx and Engels in the 1800’s has played an enormous part on society from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, and for many centuries ahead; as there is the potential for another revolution!
Hall, P. (1985) The Play of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. London: Heinemann Educational.
Kohan, J. and Traver, N. (1986) Soviet Union Present at The Creation Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov: 1890-1986. 128, (21) 48. Available at: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.winchester.idm.oclc.org/ehost/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=8f9bb073-bbb5-47a7-b633-d3c417424265%40sdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=57889859&db=a9h [Accessed 22 February 2019].
Rosenberg, M. (2018) A List of Current Communist Countries in the world. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/communist-countries-overview-1435178 [Accessed 22 February 2019].