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New Fortune Theatre Company Stages Reading Of George Orwell's Classic '1984'

March 20, 2017 1:13 p.m.


Richard Baird, "1984" director

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Related Story: New Fortune Theatre Company Stages Reading Of George Orwell's Classic '1984'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

George Orwell's novel 1984 saw a surge in sales after Kellyanne Conway's mention of alternative facts. Cautionary tale about big brother newspeak and historical revisionism will be performed tonight at the downtown library. Our arts reporter speaks with the director about it.
Can you give me background on a theater company?
New fortune theater company is a production company that began two years ago. We are dedicated to presenting great place really done.
This is a stage meeting at the library of a classic novel how did this come about?
A few years ago when I was in London the adapters of this particular piece in London has gotten quite a bit of play. We will hold of rerouting other followed by a talk back with Stephen Potts who is a professor of literature at UCSD. He will be talking to us about dystopian novels. It's a very lean version of the piece and it includes a lot of multimedia.
What was it about this particular work he felt was appropriate to bring it to an audience today?
A lot of things came together on this one. First off 1984 right now is the top-selling book on the chart. When we actually had decided to do this reading that was before we realized how hot this novel was going to be again as far as having the debate about whether alternative facts exist
1984 follows Winston Smith who works for big brother. Big brother is a totalitarian organization essentially taking over what we at least know the world to be but of course what is so frightening about 1984 is that we are never sure if the world that we are in is real or just made up by the party. Winston's job for big brother is to delete people so he goes back through newspaper articles and he goes back through video and he goes back through photographs from childhood and should the party not want this person to exist than Winston's job is to systematically delete them. Winston is beginning to question his reality and the job that he is involved in and he is also possibly falling in love. Something that the party just cannot stand because only love you can have is for big brother.
What is it about this story that makes it something that keeps seamen to hit a nerve repeatedly. It seems like it goes away out of the public consciousness. Pops back a lot has been very topical dealing with apologetic and political leaders.
I do not think that there is a time when it is not relevant and that is something that is very terrifying about 1984 actually.
I think there's something very important about strategy I will -- tragedy. I will often say this to actors and patrons. With all the tragedy that we only have people assuming we put on a musical or something funny and light. I see the value of that but if we silence our tragic voice we will silence a part of us that demands closer attention politically and there's also something cathartic about a tragedy and they look at our own decisions and our own culpability.
He will be performing is on the heels of President Trump having just announced his budget which includes cuts to or complete elimination of the endowment for the humanities. --
We can these characters have them for us and find our own strength. I think this is something that applies as well. I always think of a Winston Churchill quote and we are looking to cut the arts and education for the war effort. What you think about?
And he said what exactly is it that we are fighting for
This creates a form for us all to examine for ourselves.
Monitor flyers or advertisements for your event says come to this you are committing a thought crime.
What is interesting about this adaptation and I think it is something that is a bit terrifying about it and hopefully will hit people is that it is actually this production is supposed to be set in a room that is set to exist -- this kind of room has existed for many years. It could be other records Hall or a library. Of course we are doing it in a library. With this adaptation does as well is it gives us a very strange feeling as to what reality we are in. I've been making a few inception to -- jokes but in this case it is what reality of Winston's are being. In the beginning we are really just at a library getting together to read 1984. That is the framing device for this adaptation but as the piece goes on to become more and more entrenched in the world of brothers dystopian future. Even Winston's memories begin to play tricks with him and refine Julia when they are meeting for the first time and beginning to become attracted to one another that every now and then she is even bringing up --'s she starts to sound like the weather. Winston for a moment will be ripped out of his reality and say this does not quite mixed up -- make sense. We don't know if we are in the past or the future or the president to go at one point when O'Brien is interrogating him before the famous rat seen Winston says I believe it is -- I think -- he does not know what year it is because at this point everything has been so erased and changed that our own reality becomes ephemeral and difficult.
Thank you for taking time to talk to me.
The event is free at the San Diego central library.