SVSU theatre department performs George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

(From left) Scott Lamont as Squealer, Holly Houck as Napolean, and Lexi Schultz as Snowball attempt to overthrow Mr. Jones in the show “Animal Farm.” Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward

One of George Orwell’s most renowned works was put on the stage at SVSU last Wednesday through Sunday.

“Animal Farm,” written by English author George Orwell in 1944, is an allegory that touches on the influence of politics and power.

The SVSU theatre department put on a show with a team of 15 actors and actresses. Additionally, there was a stage manager, costume designer, make-up and hair designer, sound designer, prop designer, lighting designer and other people who made the show a reality.

Scott Lamont, a theatre education sophomore, said he was eager to be back on stage since his last SVSU show in early 2020.

He played the role of the pig Squealer who symbolized Vyacheslav Molotov, head of Communist propaganda under Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Lamont said that a great deal of work was put into this production.

“It’s crazy to believe we have put together such an amazing production in just about 6 short weeks,” he said. “Our rehearsal schedule was Monday-Friday for about three hours a day. However, rehearsal and practice time doesn’t just happen while in the rehearsal space at SVSU. As an actor in any production, a lot of work goes into making the character/ production you want your audience to see. Even on the production/technical team side of things, they put in lots and lots of work to give our audience the best show possible.”

Lamont said that “Animal Farm” is a classic piece of literature with an interesting story, saying that he read the book in one of his high school English classes.

“I learn something new in every show I am a part of,” Lamont said. “This production has some very unique elements like puppetry, voice overs and acting like a pig. Those are just a few of my favorite elements.”

James Weaver, a medical laboratory science senior, said he was eager to see such a popular story portrayed on the stage and attended the performance opening night.

Weaver said that due to his spiritual background, he found the character Moses the crow to be the most interesting.

“The actress did an amazing job of portraying religious views as seen by the perspective of the Soviet Union,” he said.

For those who may not be familiar with “Animal Farm,” Weaver said it is a simplistic metaphor for how communistic and socialistic ideals play out when implemented, adding that it is a trustworthy metaphor since it is based on actual historical events.

Weaver also said that this production of “Animal Farm” is highly relevant in society today.

“The show is exciting in the fact that, in these hard times, when politicians are full of corruption, our world leaders lie and double speak, and people are pitted against one another while the pigs are sleeping in their beds, we can see Animal Farm taking place in our country today,” he said. “This work is the much-needed challenge for us all to come together and laugh at this beautifully ugly irony.”

Weaver said that the history behind “Animal Farm” is important in understanding the purpose of the allegory.

“In Russia’s history, the Czarist monarchy and Soviet autocrats both caused issues,” he said. “I couldn’t help but to think of how the grass is greener on the other side, and we, as individuals or a collective, always think we know what we want until we get there. Then we reminisce about the good old days.”

Weaver said, above all, “Animal Farm” serves as a warning to the audience and society as a whole.

“I truly worry that in our culture, where we are so worried about fascism but yet we uphold socialism, and thus ignore socialist atrocities, which are just as bad if not worse, that the [allegory] was lost on deaf ears,” Weaver said.

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