Anindu Rentala ’21, Hop Arts Ambassador
The Dartmouth Department of Theater’s 1984 is characterized by its mixed-media adaptation. Various video clips are woven throughout the play, including Bill Maher’s interview with Yale Professor Timothy Snyder and a video made by the cast, depicting the scene in which the character Winston is tortured. Created by director Peter Hackett, this adaptation uniquely contextualizes the play’s relevance in 2018, highlighting creeping bits of post-fact authoritarianism in America’s democratic-republic.
The 1984 that recently played on Broadway was also a mixed-media adaptation, featuring video projection. Technology is certainly a motif in Orwell’s 1984 that the directors may be harking back to in their own productions. Telescreens in Orwell’s dystopia work in both directions: Besides constantly blaring propaganda, authorities use telescreens to surveil populations and identify dissident behavior.
Hackett’s incorporation of technology seems less pointed at its potential to be abused. The stage adaptation liberates Orwell’s story from the binding of a book, and Hackett’s use of technology frees the story from even the confines of a stage.
The play begins in a 1949 radio station, the year Orwell’s book was originally published.
At the end of Part I, Hackett uses the Russian band Pussy Riot’s music video I Can’t Breathe to transition the play from 1949 to 2018. Pussy Riot’s video portrays the injustice of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of two policemen in New York City. Besides serving in the play as a portal to 2018, the video represents the combined power of art and technology to powerfully connect people across the globe. The power of that human connection is conveyed by these Dartmouth students.
See for yourself, as 1984 plays at Moore Theater four more times this week: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 pm; and, Sunday at 2 pm.