GENEVA — The Geneva High Drama Club’s fall play promises to be an up close and personal experience.
The production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which runs Oct. 18-20, will see audience members sit in on-stage chairs surrounding the set instead of the auditorium seats.
“We’ve turned this into something much more interactive,” said Steve Duprey, who directs the annual fall play.
Animal Farm, an allegorical novella by Orwell first published in 1945, tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, however, the rebellion is betrayed and the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon.
According to Orwell, the fable reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union.
The Geneva production comes two years after the drama club did the Orwellian classic 1984.
“This show, if anything, is even more timely. I don’t want to be making a huge political statement here, because it’s based on the Russian revolution and the characters and the people they represent are very clear. This guy is Stalin, this guy is Lenin, this guy is Trotsky,” Duprey said. “You can make some pretty clear parallels between this play and today’s politics. You are left to draw your own conclusions, with the exception of one Bernie Sanders impersonation.”
In addition to the weekend performances, the drama club cast will do a performance earlier in the week for Geneva High sophomores who read Animal Farm in English class.
“It will be a huge challenge for this cast to perform something like this in front of their peers, this close up,” Duprey said. “This is a very young cast — very young. I have an eighth-grader in this cast. It has been a challenge trying to make sure they understand the material, let alone memorize it. They are working their butts off to get these lines down.”
Duprey said Animal Farm will be a fast-paced show with more than 120 lighting cues and numerous masks made by his daughter. Quinn Hogan is playing the lead character, Napoleon.
“He is teaching the cast. He knows the book inside and out, and the historical context,” Duprey said. “There is a lot of teaching going on here, that’s for sure.”