George Orwell’s 1945 book, “Animal Farm,” which has been required reading for some high schoolers for decades, has been brilliantly cast and staged at A Noise Within as the inaugural production of its ’22-’23 season.
By Carol Edger Germain
It was written as a satire of the Russian revolution of 1917, when the people took power back from Tsar Nicholas II, only to be terrorized, controlled, and betrayed by Stalin. Considering the country’s current turmoil and concern for our chaotic, teetering democracy, it was uncomfortably timely. Directed by the theater’s artistic co-director, Julia Rodriguez–Elliott and based on the acclaimed stage adaptation by Sir Peter Hall, with music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell. Enjoyable for middle-schoolers up through great-grandparents.
We first meet the animals of Manor Farm as they discuss the dictatorial management style of Farmer Jones, which has become increasingly abusive and unfair, and eventually determine, under the idealistic leadership of Snowball the pig, that they will unite, take control of the farm, and establish equality for all. They successfully run Farmer Jones off the farm and begin enjoying the new democracy, with weekly meetings attended by the horses (Geoff Elliott, Nicole Javier, Deborah Strang), goat (Philicia Saunders), donkey (Jeremy Rabb), cat (Sedale Threatt Jr.), raven (Cassandra Marie Murphy), cows, sheep, hens and pigeons, and most are content. They discuss issues, vote on proposals, and commit to goals of equal rights for everyone, and working for the greater good. But soon they are faced with food shortages, threatening encroachment by humans, and dissention among the ranks. The pigs slyly work their way into supreme power, justifying taking more than their fair share of supplies and opportunities, and proving the adage, “power corrupts.” The most devious and manipulative pig, Napoleon (Rafael Goldstein), flanked by Squealer (Trisha Miller) eventually can’t resist assuming dominance over the more docile animals and justify their conclusion that “some animals are more equal than others.” They cast out Snowball and begin to establish control by a few rather than by all.
Quoting director Rodriquez-Elliott (because she nailed it and I can’t say it better): “Audiences will love the theatricality of this piece. There’s music, and wonderful costumes, and a lot of humor. It invites you in because it’s so entertaining. But then the reality of the animals’ situation—and of our own—sneaks up on you. The tactics employed by the pigs as they create a ‘tyranny of the minority’ are instantly recognizable: the simplistic slogans, the creation of perceived enemies, the fake news. With midterms taking place this fall, this play is…a call to action.”
Highly recommended, don’t miss it! I may see you there, as I intend to see it again. Everything about this production is captivating and extremely well done, you will be riveted to the stage every minute.
A Noise Within 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena (Free parking in the adjacent parking structure, 149 N. Halstead) Adapted for the stage by Peter Hall from the novel by George Orwell Music by Richard Peaslee Lyrics by Adrian Mitchell Directed by Julia Rodriguez–Elliott Musical Direction by Rod Bagheri Starring Geoff Elliott, Bert Emmett, Rafael Goldstein, Stanley Andrew Jackson III, Nicole Javier, Trisha Miller, Cassandra Marie Murphy, Jeremy Rabb, Philicia Saunders, Deborah Strang, Sedale Threatt Jr. Presented by A Noise Within, Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, producing artistic directors. -Fridays at 8:00 pm: Sept. 16*, Sept. 23*, Sept. 30* -Saturdays at 2:00 pm: Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1 -Saturdays at 8:00 pm: Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1 -Sundays at 2:00 pm: Sept. 18, Sept. 25, Oct. 2 *Post-performance conversations with the artists (included in ticket price) -Check website for information on student matinees.
We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)