What was your very first connection with 1984?
I might be the only person who didn’t have to read it during high school. After feeling like I missed out on some formative experience (what was Room 101?) I read it for the first time a few years ago. I remember being struck by how inexorable the plot felt. Once Winston puts pen to paper, there’s no stopping what comes next.
What does 1984 mean to you?
One of the things I’m fascinated by at the moment is what makes one person choose to fight against the oppressive society they live in. I love the idea that Winston is fighting against the endless present that he lives in; of doing it for the past, for the future. For the unborn. And, in turn, for himself. There’s something terrifyingly lonely about the notion that without free thought, memories, and dreams for the future you don’t exist.
Do you have a favourite Orwell quote?
“We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness”
What is your most enduring memory of the book?
The anticipation of the giant rats in the cage (spoiler!) has got to be one of the greatest horror moments in literature, right?
How important do you think it is for audiences to see 1984 onstage now, in 2017?
Theatre is at its best when it speaks to the world around us. It feels like we’re all glued to our TVs and newspapers, unable to look away from the undeniably Orwellian developments in the USA. The Trump administration’s war on the media, and claims that any news source that disagrees with his lies are “fake news”, is some of the most astonishing use of doublethink. However, despite how close to the bone a lot of this play feels like at the moment, theatre also has that wonderful function of acting as a balm to this feeling of fear and isolation; the act of gathering together for an hour or two to witness as story being told is a form of solidarity.