Warwick stages ‘Animal Farm’ this weekend

By on November 2, 2016
The cast of WHS's "Animal Farm"

The cast of WHS’s “Animal Farm”

Warwick High School drama students will present “Animal Farm,” a classic allegory set on a small farm in England, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5, at 7:30 p.m.; and on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. in the WHS Performing Arts Center, 301 W. Orange St.

The play is based on the book of the same name by George Orwell. It is a satire on political equality, where all barnyard animals live free from their human masters’ tyranny. The story takes place on Manor Farm, run by Mr. Jones (played by Zac Snyder) who is not taking very good care of his animals. This inspires the animals to rebel.

The rebellion is led by Major, an old boar (played by Akash Banerjee). Major calls for the animals to embrace “animalism” and stages a revolution to achieve an “idealistic state of justice and progress.: A power-hungry pig, Napoleon (played by Ryan Dohner), becomes a totalitarian dictator who leads the Animal Farm into “All Animals Are Equal/But Some Are More Equal Than Others” oppression.

As a political tract, “Animal Farm” is a satire on human folly, and an allegorical lesson for all those who wish for utopia. Animal Farm preaches against the dangers of political innocence and blind political devotion. Orwell wanted to expose Russian Communism for what it really was — an idealist’s dream converted into a nightmare.

According to director Dean Sobon, he chose this play because of the present political climate.

“It’s an election season and there’s a lot happening (politically) here right now,” he said. “This play holds unique challenges because the actors need to portray animals with very distinct, individual personalities. ‘

He discussed that the auditions for this show presented a very special twist right from the start for the students.

“I had them do their best chicken, pig, and horse interpretation,” said Sobon.

In keeping with the serious nature of the play, which is based on the Communist Revolution in Russia, Sobon is keeping the students in subtle costumes, having them rely on their acting skills and wearing makeup (and ears), not full animal garb, to portray the animals. For example, the pig costumes will have a military vibe and the dogs will have collars and a circle around their eye.

Sobon has seen great growth in the students as they are developing their characters and perfecting their portrayal of animals.

“I am so proud of these students; they have certainly embraced the story and their characters. It’s hard to walk like a pig, let alone an ‘old’ pig — but they are really doing a great job,” he said. “Even the animals who don’t talk in the show need to stay in character, so it can be very challenging. They are definitely meeting that challenge and exceeding my expectations.”

Tickets are general admission only. Ticket costs are: $5 for students and seniors (ages 62+), and $8 for adults. Tickets will be available at the door, beginning one hour prior to the performances.

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