ORWELL: A Celebration Marks Anniversaries Of 1984, Coming Up For Air 6/8-4/4
ORWELL: a celebration is an unprecedented theatrical homage to Orwell, marking the 60th and 70th anniversaries of the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Coming Up For Air. It previews at the Trafalgar Studios from 8 June with a press night on 10 June. After its critically acclaimed premiere in 2008, the new monologue version of Coming up for Air will be performed alongside extracts from his most famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and two other Orwell works, Shooting an Elephant and A Hanging. The festival will be enhanced by a complementary strand of literary events with all profits going to the human rights group Liberty, founded 75 years ago, and the Orwell Prize, the pre-eminent British prize for political writing.
Adapted for theatre by Daily Telegraph critic Dominic Cavendish and starring comedian Hal Cruttenden, Coming Up For Air is a creative tour de force which displays Orwell's great gift for comic writing. Set on the brink of World War Two, it tells the story of George Bowling, a middle-aged insurance man who is married with kids, saddled with a mortgage and living a henpecked life. Filled with a sense of dread about the fate awaiting England, he flees suburbia for the countryside of his childhood. With millions once again worrying about keeping a roof over their heads, and fearful of the future, Coming Up For Air speaks to the anxieties of our own age - and remains significant as a powerful elegy for a vanishing England.
Shooting an Elephant (1936) and A Hanging (1931) are two monologue-essays that give searing insights into Orwell's experience as a police officer in the Indian Imperial Police force in Burma from 1922-1927. In Shooting an Elephant, the narrator - a white police officer - describes being compelled by the curiosity of a gathering crowd to track down and kill a rogue elephant. A Hanging, possibly drawn from first-hand experience, describes in bleakly humorous detail the execution of a prisoner in a Burmese jail.
The evening concludes with a chilling distillation of Nineteen Eighty-Four's ‘Ministry of Love' interrogation scenes involving party apparatchik O'Brien and the novel's lone hero Winston Smith, which contain some of the most famous lines in 20th Century English literature and one of its most concentrated accounts of torture.
Hal Cruttenden plays George Bowling. His first stage appearance was in 1982 in Another Country at the Queen's Theatre, London with Kenneth Branagh and Rupert Everett. TV acting credits have included EastEnders, Shackleton, and Kavanagh QC and his film work includes Mrs Dalloway. As a stand-up comedian he is one of the most sought after acts on the UK circuit, currently supporting Rob Brydon on tour and at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. He joined the British shortlist in the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal in summer 2008. His TV credits as writer and performer include The Omid Djalili Show (BBC).
Orwell's texts are adapted for theatre by Dominic Cavendish who is deputy theatre critic for the Daily Telegraph and also its comedy critic. He is the founding editor of theatrevoice.com, the biggest online resource for audio material on contemporary British theatre. ORWELL: a celebration is directed by Gene David Kirk, Artistic Director at Jermyn Street Theatre and the Programming Director for new writing powerhouse Theatre 503 in Battersea, London. Directing credits include the world premieres of The Parallel of Paul, The Ox and the Ass, Amir: The Lost Prince of Persia (Theatre 503), Elgar and Alice (UK Tour), The Ash Boy (Theatre 503), Crooked Wood (Jermyn Street Theatre).
ORWELL: a celebration is produced by Doublethink Theatre and The Fish Partnership in arrangement with the Orwell Estate. The production is taking part in the Arts Council Scheme ‘A Night Less Ordinary' aimed at providing free tickets for the Under 26's available on the day of each performance.
Further casting to be announced
8 June - 4 July 2009
Monday - Saturday at 7.45pm
Thursday & Saturday at 2.45pm
Trafalgar Studios, Studio 2
14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY
Box Office: 0870 060 6632