A contemporary-style adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm is heading to Heath Ledger Theatre this October. Performed by Black Swan State Theatre Company, the characters and plot adhere to Orwell’s seminal allegory of anti-Stalinist satire but with an infusion of modern technology and politics.
“Make animal farm great!” is the mantra that carries on through the production, making it impossible to miss the connection to current world issues.
Written by political powerhouse, Van Badham, the production highlights the brutality of power in today’s political landscape of fake news, borrowing cues from Trump.
Badham is the award-winning writer of more than 30 internationally-produced plays for stage and radio. She began a weekly column for The Guardian in 2013 and appears regularly on television and radio in her role as a commentator, critic and activist.
“The great thing about writing across platforms is that some stories are better told through different media. Journalism is where facts go. The theatre is where you can speculate wildly. Mixing these two up makes for bad theatre and/or dysfunctional democracies,” she says.
Badham has taken the archetypes from Orwell’s pages and tied them to figures seen in real-world scenarios across the globe in politics, corporations, and businesses.
This production will be a veritable “Barnyard Collage” depicting animals in a range of ways from masks, to onesies, to actual animals on screen. Set design includes a giant cinema-sized screen as the backdrop, shared with actors on stage.
Over a power-packed 90 minutes, the audience will be taken on a wacky and wild ride of different worlds both on screen and stage, showcasing how propaganda is manipulated into truth. Think CNN meets the ABC meets Fox News.
The play is directed by Emily McLean, WAAPA graduate and founding member of Red Ryder Productions. McLean was a Black Swan Resident Artist in 2017 and 2019 and has directed several productions for the theatre company.
Only 3 actors make up the cast: ABC Presenter and co-founder and creative producer of Barefaced Stories, Andrea Gibbs, popular and regular Black Swan performer Alison Van Reeken, and WAAPA graduate and prolifically talented actor, writer and director Megan Wilding.