I’ve decided to spend the summer working on a new show. A solo show that has shadow puppetry and I’m doing it in both official languages, oh and I’m gonna play live music. No. Big. Deal. I have no idea why I do this to myself. I get an idea for a show, apply for the grant, then when I get the grant I’m both ecstatic and terrified. Who the hell do I think I am to pull this off? Pressure makes diamond…. or hard shit.
The show: Animal Farm Treatment. Yup, good ol’ George Orwell’s classic animal allegory. However, I’m doing an adaptation, bringing the animal farm metaphor into our current economy of the have and have nots. About inequality, neoliberalism and globalization. The hope is to bring the show to high schools, get students inspired to vote and question authority.
I didn’t read Animal Farm in High School. I read it about a year ago when my Dad handed me a copy, “I think you’ll like this Al”. He was right. For the study guide to go along with the adaptation, I’m learning about George Orwell. He died at 46. Of TB. But before he left this world, he had an extraordinary life. He was a police officer in Burma, joined an antifascist movement in Spain, got shot in the throat, lived as a poor writer in Paris and London, and published several books on all these experiences. When he wrote Animal Farm, it was turned down by four publishers (mainly because British firms, sometimes on government advice, declined to offend the country’s Soviet allies).
I often wondering why I do shows with social or political messages. I mean, of course I know; I’m passionate about fighting for change. I’m pissed off about injustice and this is the way I want to raise awareness. But I wonder sometimes, because I’ll look out and see 5 people in the audience. Why am I not doing more commercial work? I’d have a better shot at getting an audience (and making a buck) if I just did the original Animal Farm. From reading about Orwell, I am in awe of his ability to stay true to himself. And to tell the truth.
New goal for the show- be more like Orwell. Truthful and brave.