Last night we finished our mini tour of the play "Animal Farm" based on George Orwell's novel. Five performances in seven days left us very tired but extremely proud of our achievements. With a cast of just nine actors playing 18 characters, we all had to work hard; many of us multi-roling at least two characters. The audience reaction at each of the venues was very positive. They seemed to like the way that all of the actors were working hard, both physically and vocally, to create their respective animal characters. (It is difficult to describe whether they were animals with human qualities or the other way round.)
The parallels with recent events in Zimbabwe were commented on frequently. Everyone seemed all too aware that the story of the abuse of power is as relevant today as when Orwell wrote the book as a critique of the rise of Communism in Russia.
We didn't hammer the point home; it is just there in the script. I think that a number of the cast were affected by the experience of rehearsing and performing the play. It is one of the by-products of working on a text that you start to delve into the background and subtext. Actors are by nature curious, so the opportunity to research into a person/situation/historical period is a gift.
I'm very proud of the way my colleagues worked in this project. As the company nears its third birthday, it is humbling to see the progression and development that we have undergone. With a show lined up for the Edinburgh Fringe, we are busier than ever. There's no rest for the wicked but I wouldn't have it any other way.
A final thank you to the production office at The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds who gave their permission for us to perform our version of 'Animal Farm' despite having exclusive rights at the moment. This spirit of collaboration and support of a smaller organisation was most welcome and appreciated. We wish them all the very best for their production in October, and I urge anyone who can get there to go and support them.