What was your very first connection with 1984?
I first listened to 1984 on audiobook when I was in school. Late one night, unable to sleep, I played the audiobook to help me relax – it didn’t. I lay in my bed wide eyed, staring at the ceiling fan for hours, more agitated than before. I later made the same mistake with Orwell’s Animal Farm.
What does 1984 mean to you?
I think we can draw many parallels between our world and the dystopian world of 1984. In both worlds, politicians manipulate language in order to conceal meaning and deflect attention from their unpalatable actions; they don’t lie, they use alternative facts. A few years before he wrote 1984, Orwell reflected that ‘Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.’
Do you have a favourite Orwell quote?
‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.’
What is your most enduring memory of the book?
The description of Winston’s squalid living conditions; the one-room apartment, the ‘Victory’ branded gin, the rationing.
How important do you think it is for audiences to see 1984 onstage now, in 2017?
It is eerily relevant today. I think its important to scrutinise what our politicians say and how they say it – this is an important message in the play. Winston’s efforts to document his own more accurate account of history, is as identifiable today as it was when 1984 was first published almost 70 years ago.