Drama turns political with Animal Farm
Every year, most of the sophomore class is required to read Animal Farm for English, and whether students love this story or struggled through it, there is no denying its political beauty.
The Northgate community will be able to experience Animal Farm like never before by attending Production Workshop’s theatrical adaptation of the George Orwell’s award winning fable on stage Oct. 26 through 29.
If you have yet to read Animal Farm or just need a recap, the basic premise is a complex allegory that reflects upon the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 preceding the Stalinist era. For the purpose of his tale, Author George Orwell sets the entire plot to unfold on a farm in England with various farm animals as the protagonists.
Production Workshop’s version will take place in California to ensure that words and references will feel more familiar to audience members. The play will still address themes pertinent to the story including the rise of fascism, corruption of elite, manipulation, and socialism.
“This show is unlike anything we’ve done in Production Workshop before, and I think that’s what makes it so exciting.” remarked Student Director Allyson Tayao.
When asked why he chose this play, Drama teacher Jeff Hagerstrand, connected the timeless classic to the current political atmosphere.
“The Trump administration has piqued teenagers’ interest in politics in a way that I’ve never seen before. Everyone is reacting strongly to him,” Hagerstrand said. “This seemed like a perfect semester to take advantage of that interest.”
Hagerstrand hopes to put on a play that is both enjoyable and inspirational.
“Our number one goal is always to entertain, but political theatre also has the purpose of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” explained Hagerstrand. He pointed out that political theatre has the power to “make the people who don’t feel represented, represented and the people who are overrepresented have to look in the mirror.”
The general desire is that people will leave the Little Theatre with thoughts and questions weighing on their mind.
Despite Hagerstrand’s strong intentions, some Production Workshop students are anxious to see how their final product will turn out.
“I think, considering the political climate, it could be very interesting and informative. Our main objection is to put a mirror up to the audience and expose society’s flaws,” said Catherine Zadorozhna, set designer and performer for Animal Farm. “Though this play does involve a lot of technical challenges, that will be very interesting to handle and solve.”
Given the fact that every major character in the play is an animal, the technical aspect of this play will be unique compared to previous Production Workshop performances, such as last year’s fall show, The Laramie Project .
“Obviously, everyone is not human, so there’s a costume element to that. As well, we must make it seem lifelike and believable, and not everyone dressed up in Halloween costumes,” stated Zadorozhna.
Although technical issues are proving harder than usual, Production Workshop is enthusiastic about the challenge. Zadorozhna has big plans for the layout of the stage, but refused to reveal anything before opening night. She added, “I’m pretty confident, that whatever we put on, it will be at least be interesting.”
“Our class has gone above and beyond to contribute their own spark of creativity involving sets, lights, acting, and even music this year. The play is definitely ambitious, but I think we’ve put in the effort to make it worth watching, and I hope Northgate thinks so too,” said Tayao.
So, if you’re looking for a politically engaging show featuring exceptional Northgate talent, as well as original costuming and design, come see Production Workshop’s upcoming performance of Animal Farm. Or maybe you just want to avoid reading another book for English? Either way, stop by the Little Theatre from Oct. 26 through Oct. 29 for a truly remarkable theatre experience.