HAMILTON — The Hamilton Community Players present a staged reading of George Orwell’s 1945 allegorical masterpiece “Animal Farm” at 7:30 pm. Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29, at Arts at the Palace Theater Underground, 19 Utica St.
Set against the backdrop of a revolt by barnyard animals opposing Farmer Jones, the story, as adapted by Nelson Bond, reflects events leading up to the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the onset of the Stalinist dictatorship in the Soviet Union.
This stark, cautionary fable of corruption, ignorance and greed allows theatergoers to draw a variety of parallels to historical and contemporary political life, and psychosocial behavior.
Directed by John Hunter Orr and featuring Romans Jo Ann Geller and Ted Lenio, this readers theater-style production features a number of the cast members involved in Orr’s previous Palace productions of “The War of the Worlds” last year.
“Great theater should entertain, educate and enlighten,” Orr said. “This adaptation is an eye-opener that skillfully pulls off all three aims for audiences. Its biting satire resonates strongly, with action echoed in our newspaper headlines today. This drama will make you sit up and listen.”
Orwell, a staunch socialist, wrote this powerful allegory at the end of World War II, just four years before his popular novel, “1984.”
He relates how utopian idealism was turned into a totalitarian nightmare fueled by fear and brutality. This dystopian fiction is prescient in portraying these same forces being employed today by remarkably similar despots and dictators who systematically regulate the rules for selfish purposes.
Lenio plays Squealer, whom he calls a “short, fat pig … a brilliant talker and very persuasive.” He thinks the cast’s animal animations are exceptional.
“We see Orwell as a visionary because he so clearly understood universal human nature and its devious potentials,” said Lenio. “Propaganda poses as ‘fact’ and twists ‘truth’ to perpetuate privilege and preserve power, portraying how susceptible we are to being manipulated, even when we think we’re objective and understand the truth.”
Collaborating with Orr on the live music to accompany “Animal Farm” is pianist Geller.
“Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’ is the perfect aural setting to convey both the play’s tone as well as specific characters,” she said. “His music sets the mood and action of particular scenes and complements the key animal protagonists and personalities portrayed in the play.”
All tickets are $10 and available at www.hamiltoncreates.com or at the door.
“Animal Farm” has been a perennial staple of school curricula for decades, both beloved and berated by students and teachers alike. In that spirit, there will be a special matinee performance and discussion for students attending from Otselic, Sherburne and Madison schools.