Big Brother is watching you.
Next week, the Kilgore College Theater Department will present “1984”, a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel of authoritarianism, government control and the people who find themselves caught up in the midst of a totalitarian, dystopian future.
Theater instructor and director Micah Goodding said several factors led him to choose this show as the first one of the fall semester.
“We always choose a show that has literary value to be our first show of the season because it makes news students on campus aware of us, that we’re here, and to create educational opportunities to reach out to students who are off-campus, including at high schools. ‘1984’ was on the reading list for a lot of high schools. We were drawn to that show in particular because it’s getting performed more often now,” Goodding said, adding a KC alumnus is part of a production of ‘1984’ at the Alley Theater in Houston.
“That’s really one of the largest regional theaters in the country. We’re in good company.”
Not only does the show have literary merit for local students, its themes are still frequently discussed today, 70 years after the story was first written.
“I think the issues in the play are just as relevant today, if not more, so than when Orwell first conceived the novel on which the play is based,” Goodding said.
While the novel and its stage adaptation deal with grim topics, the director feels the core of the story is based on love.
“The concept for this piece has been that it’s a love story inside a dystopian future. The message behind it is meant to be a warning to us all that, unless we are careful and vigilant, we can let the powers-that-be influence us into hating rather than loving. Because of that, the students can access the themes pretty easily.”
The stage show, which Goodding said will involve projections and surveillance cameras mounted onstage and pointed at the audience, fully engages his students as cast members, crew members and designers.
Presenting ‘1984’ is timely, Goodding said, because the situations it proposes and messages it conveys ring true for modern audiences.
“Whether we like it or not, we live in a time when public discourse, especially concerning levels of authority in government, has reached a low point and what we are all about is challenging our audiences and challenging ourselves to raise our awareness. Taking into account the current political climate and how divisive some figures can be and how political themes tend to split apart relationships if we can’t reach a level of discourse that’s based in love. I think that all those things are going to be relevant.”
The play will be set in a time unmoored from our own to focus on the story and the experiences of the characters.
“We’re certainly not trying to hit it right on the nose as far as specific names and places. We’re telling the story as it’s written. It takes place in London at a time that we don’t’ really know. A lot of people associated the novel with Orwell’s thoughts on 1984. This adaption leaves it open-ended. Where it takes place is a time that is not our own. It’s been cut away from the past and divorced from the future. That’s what makes it so hard for the characters in it, for them to find their identities. They don’t know what the truth is.”
Goodding added the show has been creating a lot of buzz at KC.
“We’ve had a great response already from the faculty and staff who are planning to come and watch the show and support from students who are going to be experiencing it, either in the audience or onstage or backstage.”
The show opens in the Van Cliburn Auditorium of the Anne Dean Turk Fine Arts Center at KC Thursday, Oct. 10 and continues Friday, Oct. 11 with two sold-out morning performances for area high schools. Evening performances open to students and the public will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10, 11 and 12 with a final Sunday matinee performance on Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m.