Animal Farm, Theatre in the human zoo
Unclassifiable, random and brilliant, AGORA Theatre’s new production of Animal Farm, originally written by George Orwell, transports and overwhelms. Packed with references, the German language, dance interludes and organised chaos, this daring production is co-directed by the philosopher Felix Ensslin, who grew up in Germany during the political turmoil of the Years of Lead in the 1970s.
100 years after the October Revolution, the historical inspiration behind George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which was published in 1945, seven actors in their enclosed surroundings ask themselves if this text actually reflects their story and that of modern-day Europe.
This back-and-forth between collective political and biographical subjects helps to humanise this version of Animal Farm in its clinical setting, reminding us both of scientific experiments and modern-day industrial farms.
In Animal Farm, George Orwell denounced the propagandistic manipulations of the pig Napoleon (Stalin), used to benefit from the animals’ revolution on the farm belonging to Jones (the Tsar), along with everything from the capitalist order to the individualism of today’s gyms, writing and even masturbation. Animal Farm also expresses the questioning of the human condition, the modern-day processes of selection and the constant repetition of history.
It’s difficult to remain indifferent to it.
The most difficult part of the exercise? Accepting that you don’t understand everything. Animal Farm is clear about this from the beginning, with the line: “the morning star is the evening star. It makes sense but it doesn’t mean anything.”
All you have to do is sit back and be transported by the actors.