Oceania, reimagined

Colliding Scopes takes on Orwell’s nightmare

The condition is a social one that affects nearly every citizen of Oceania.
The condition is a social one that affects nearly every citizen of Oceania.

Colliding Scopes transforms three floors of Jeffery Hall into the Ministries of Love, Peace, Truth and Plenty for The Condition, an adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Co-Director/Production Manager Evelyn Popiel, ArtSci ’14, said that the “oppressing, gritty feel” of Orwell’s well-known novel made it “really interesting to explore aesthetically” as opposed to other dystopias, most notably the false utopia of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

The Condition is set in Nineteen Eighty-Four’s world of Oceania, mixing familiar characters with new ones who instigate further scenarios and insight.

“The story of Nineteen Eighty-Four closely follows the character of Winston [but] we completely deviated from his narrative and we’ve created several other characters for our audience to follow,” Popiel said.

The condition referred to in the production’s title is the social condition experienced by the citizens of Oceania. As Popiel noted, the title of Orwell’s novel is not representative of a year but the social condition “created by an all-powerful authority” which demands the sacrifice of the personal for the sake of the collective.

“[In Oceania,] everyone devotes all of their time working for Big Brother and upholding the three mantras of Big Brother: Ignorance is strength, Freedom is slavery and War is peace,” said Popiel.

All private and personal life, from public communication to intimate relationships, is monitored and censored by Big Brother.

The cast and crew of The Condition began working on the adaptation in October with designated writer Jesse Gazic, ArtSci ’16, incorporating everyone’s ideas into the script.

The theatre company Colliding Scopes promises “experimental, environmental, and immersive retellings of the stories you’ve always loved”. Past productions include adaptations of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Peter Pan.

“It’s always exciting to see how our audience interacts with the show … they get to interact with the characters and they’re given tasks to do,” Popiel said.

“The show changes every night depending on what our audience does. I’m really interested in the kinds of choices our audiences [will] make and how that will change our show.”

The Condition will play in Jeffery Hall from Friday 7 p.m. to Sunday, March 9 at 9 a.m. Tickets will be available at the doors and from Tricolour Outlet.

Audience members can anticipate participation, a fair amount of walking, close and potentially frightening contact with actors as well as violence.

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