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1984 Big Brother is Watching you this February

On February 2nd 2017, 24 students from The Compton School will be performing their own adaptation of the book 1984 by George Or well, author of Animal Farm and Down and Out in Paris and London.

1984, which is one of the most famous fictional works of the 20th Century, was written in 1949. The book is about the year 1984 (which at the time it was written would have been the distant future), and how by that year the government would control everything and be able to see people wherever they are.

The themes of the book are increasingly relevant today. As technology develops more and more, it could be argued that the government’s control over us is too extensive, and that George Orwell’s forecast for the future is not very different from modern society. For example, in the book, the government have the ability to monitor civilians via a device in shape of an eye. This is not so different from the CCTV cameras that we have today. These unnerving similarities are what makes 1984 such an intriguing and interesting read, as well as an ideal book to adapt and explore in a production.

We spoke to a range of students and teachers involved in the production, including the head of the operation: Ms. Tunnadine. When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of working with the team, she said that “the cast is amazing because they work extremely well together”, but that as KS4 and 5 students are very busy with heavy workloads and exams to revise for, it’s often difficult to organise meetings and rehearsals that everyone can attend.

As for the technical elements of the show, Ms Tunnadine told us that the lighting will be taken care of by a professional,
who will be brought in from outside the school. In terms of music, we are told they have an exciting mix of supernatural sounding pieces and works from the 1920s and 30s. Miss Sparks, our art technician, informed us that set design is still in the concept phase; however, she told us that the goal is to immerse the audience and get them to feel like they are really in 1984. This could include moving images and pictures of the actors and other exciting features.

We also spoke directly to some of the actors involved, including May Harding, a sixth form student who is both acting and directing in the performance. “You just get down and do it,” she said when asked about the flow of the performance. We asked for one word to describe the show, to which she replied: “a totally kick a** performance!” When jesting about the process of giving people roles, she described it as “big role mafia.”

This leads neatly onto one of the things we found very intriguing about the performance. All of the actors play multiples roles. To get a better idea about this concept, and some of the characters we’ll be seeing portrayed, we spoke to a series of Year 10 students about their roles. Marwa Satar plays the role of friends and robots and says the best thing about being part of 1984 is “the free Oreos!” Her friend Yasmin Newell, who plays Comrade 1984, said that the teachers organising the play - Ms. Tunnadine and Ms. Hodge - are “super supportive”. Later on we spoke to Arjun Nanning Ramamurthy, who plays Older Comrade. He told us about how it’s equally challenging and exciting to play a main character; he said there are a lot of lines to learn, but it’s very rewarding to play a leading role. He described his character as “flamboyant”. Meanwhile, Asal Malekinia and Poppy Halksworth joked and laughed about the personalities of their characters. Asal said her character was “fabulously evil”, and that her character “is a dramatic villain who antagonises 1984”, while Poppy described her character Julia in three words
as “romantic, rebellious and a bit of a rascal”. Rebecca Lynch’s character, 1984, sounded a bit more mysterious. “He knows things he should not know,” she said ominously.

In summary, we think it sounds like an incredibly cohesive, hard-working and talented team of people who really love what they do and strive to do the best work possible. We think they’ll put on the show of a lifetime, and we look forward to reviewing the production!

1984 runs from the 2nd to the of February and tickets will be available soon.

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