Animal Farm and the lessons we're still learning

by Meera Jacka

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Published

Make animal farm great!

Animal Farm, first published in 1945 by novelist and socialist George Orwell, is a satirical and political novella. It strongly critiques totalitarianism as a means for those in power to maintain their position through the oppression of the lower class, presenting itself as a preview of what is bound to happened in any totalitarian regime. Despite seven decades having passed since it first resonated with readers, its themes still ring relevant today, cementing it as a timeless tale of manipulation, control, and power. Over the years many adaptions have been made—from films to graphic novels, and all in-between—and now another is about to hit the stage.

Van Badham, an Australian playwright, novelist, and social commentator, is bringing Animal Farm to life with a new contemporary theatre production showing at the Heath Ledger Theatre from 2 October – 24 October 2021. Not scared to delve into the controversial and speak for voices unheard, Badham’s take on the anarchy of Animal Farm is full of fire, passion, and a relevance that might just hit a little too close to home. The Russian Revolution of 1917—on which the novella was based—has long passed, but the importance of Animal Farm has not. With Badham leading the front, Animal Farm is ready to inspire a new generation to take a stand against corruption and greed. Teens and new adults are already showing an increased interest in politics and inciting change, with protests in the streets and activism carrying through many platforms on social media. There is a fiery desire to make a difference and be understood, and this modern take on Animal Farm hears them—adapting the timeless tale to mirror this new era of media and propaganda.

“Make animal farm great!” is the mantra that carries on through the production, making it impossible to miss the connection to current world issues. In an age of Trump and political unrest, these farm animals conjure up many real-life counterparts that feel eerily familiar. Napoleon, the power-hungry pig with a knack for distorting reality; Squealer, the spokesperson (or should I say spokespig?) with no fears of conscience; Boxer, the hard worker who remains loyal—right up until he is ultimately betrayed. These archetypes have been seen before, not just in the pages of George Orwell’s original novella, but in real world scenarios across the globe. In politics, corporations, and businesses. Selfish gain at the expense of others.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

One of the most memorable quotes from Animal Farm, derived from the original rule of “all animals are equal”, makes a telling statement on the shamelessness of leaders and politicians. On empty promises and rules changed to suit the agenda of a select few. Badham’s adaptation doesn’t shy away from this, and there is a resonating call for action. To question power, demand leaders be held accountable, and stand up against injustice. This new take on Animal Farm, with stunning visuals and striking prose, will leave audiences thinking about it long after the curtains have fallen.

So, what are you waiting for?

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