A very famous novel written by George Orwell, Animal Farm, has been adapted to stage recently. Formed into a play Peter Hall and directed by Erdal Beşikçioğlu, the play was performed in Cermodern, Stürdocer on 31st of May 2013. The actors of the play were Arsal Mazmanoğlu, Adem Aydil, Ahmet Melih Yılmaz, Burak Küçükosman, Ayşegül Çaylı, Mertcan Semerci, Aytek Şayan and Naz Göktan, and some minor characters that concluded to thirteen actors and actresses. The entrance was by the two narrow and dark corridors and the audience were accompanied by slight but strict and fast drumbeats resembling a military order. The place was dim-lighted, a square-shaped stage in the middle with seats at two sides of the stage, viewing the play from all the angles, surrounding it as a cage – or to put it according to the concept of the play, the borders of the farm. There were no curtains so the audience was not separated from the play, as the actors left and re-entered the stage, they were interacting with the audience. Also what hit the audience as they first entered the auditorium was an actor sitting on a baton indicating that his role as a bird.
Born in 1903 as Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bengal, in the then British colony of India the author known by his pseudonym George Orwell was an English novelist and journalist. Born in the British colony of India, where his father Richard, worked for the Opium Department of the Civil Service, he was brought to England at the age of one by his mother Ida. He is famous mostly for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and allegorical novel Animal Farm. And the director of the play Erdal Beşikçioğlu who is born in 5 January 1972 is an actor mostly taking roles in theatre but also has showed up in several TV series and movies. He received his education in Hacettepe University Conservatory on the field of performance arts.
Animal Farm is a representational play that sheds light onto human psychology. It scopes a revolt against oppression and more importantly the aftermaths of the event. The plot can be summarised as a revolt of animals against the farmer with the desire of freedom, equality and happiness, and when the farmer is dismissed, another dictatorship rising from within that is even worse than the rule of the farmer. With the characters of pigs Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer the audience is given the effects of power and being in charge on human nature, that are the loss of aim, changes of intentions and most importantly corruption.
The play began with an illusionistic song that was almost in the form of a lullaby or a children’s song – optimistic and full of hope. As the sound got louder, it got disturbed by violent noises almost like explosions that almost foreshadowed the whole play: the play would begin with ideals and dreams, and end up in a really distributive way with the opposite of what was expected.
The costumes were very simple, especially abstained from any luxurious or modern pieces. The characters with their simplistic costumes reflected the pure and natural way of living except for the pigs Napoleon and Squealer who had leather pieces that are not only luxurious but also carry the meaning of their brutality and harming their own kind. Other than that all the actors had sticks used as forelegs of the animals or in chickens’ cases wings. As the play developed, the audience witnessed that the pigs started to use the sticks as merely arms and not stepping on them and close to the ending they completely disappeared and their walks were similar to humans whom they detested. This was against one of the rules that were established at the very beginning of the play even before the revolt that animals were not ought to walk on two feet.
What was incredibly successful was the actors realisation of their animal characteristics. The specific moves of the sheep or the goat were quite distinguished. Every animal, not only as their specie but also as their own character were different. On several scenes, most obviously at the torture of the donkey, the audience was in horror. There was child audience brought by his parents whose facial reaction to this scene was very remarkable, one could easily see his fear and pity toward the donkey whereas at the same time there was confusion because he could not have understood the reason why the donkey was treated as such.
Being such a successful performance, the play and the actors received a great respect accompanied by applause from the audience at the end. As the audience left through the corridors the whispering comments about the play revealed that the play’s effect on the audience had not lifted and people were filled with sympathy along with the feelings of rage and depression.
Dilara Ecem Ümitli