1984 - George Orwell, adapted by Phil Smith

2001-2002 season

George Orwell's novel of 1949 is a terrifying vision of a future where a totalitarian government uses sophisticated technology to control its people.

It is the story of Winston Smith, a party worker who begins to question the logic and truth of the ruthless and uncompromising ruling Party, Ingoc and its leader Big Brother. Winston starts to take risks, hiding from government cameras and reading unauthorised books. He meets and falls in love with a girl, they make love while knowing even simply being in love is an illegal act punishable by death. Now fearless, he joins a secret group of revolutionaries who are intent on overthrowing the government and restoring democracy.

Winston is inevitably found out - caught by the Thought Police and arrested. They torture him, brainwashing Winston so he can no longer think for himself. Now stripped of the ability to use his own mind, Winston can only believe what the government does is right.

When Orwell finished the book in 1948 he simply reversed the last two digits to end up at 1984. It was suitably somewhere far off in the future and when published was seen by contemporary readers and critics as a dark fantasy piece. For Orwell himself it was a warning that a government could one day create a totalitarian state with an all seeing eye on its people. He drew on the events of World War Two, particularly living in a city during war time, and the communist threat in the East. The book is a stark warning about a population's political apathy, who allow their government to slowly erode civil liberties.

Thirty-six years later there was no Thought Police, no Room 101 and no all powerful dictatorship. Was the book simply a grim vision of the future, the work of a paranoid author? Life changes quickly and since the 1980s vast technological leaps have been made. Nearly sixty years after the book we have ubiquitous CCTV cameras watching our moves, a virtual web of information that can be used to track what we're looking for online. The Western world's media is controlled by a few very rich and powerful men. Voting turnouts are far lower than they were in 1984. The fight against terrorism has changed the way the public views civil liberties. Who is to say that Orwell's vision of the future might not be with us soon?

Phil Smith's new adaptation of the novel is a highly visual recreation of the story using contemporary music and the latest computer technology. Its aim is to challenge audiences to compare Orwell's fantasy world with ours and to spark debate about the rights of the citizen, individual freedom and the power of government.

The Cast

Timothy Michaels Winston
Anna Tolputt Julia
Clive Bennett Syme

Toby Sharpe


Patrick Collins Road Manager
Phil Smith Adaptor
Peter Joucla Director

1984 - George Orwell, adapted by Phil Smith

2002-2003 season

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