What was your very first connection with 1984?
Truthfully, probably the Big Brother reality TV show in the early noughties! Although, as a consequence of putting our faith in political systems, I think we’ve all been connected with 1984 without necessarily having had a conscious awareness of it.
What does 1984 mean to you?
That privacy is illusory, the curtailment of freedoms inevitable, inequality and injustice commonplace, but that the individual’s freedom to refuse and rebel will, eventually, overpower. To quote the brilliant contemporary writer Ian McEwan, “God said, Let there be pain. And there was poetry. Eventually.”
Do you have a favourite Orwell quote?
“Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion, and such truisms as that a machine-gun is still a machine-gun even when a “good” man is squeezing the trigger … have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter.”
What is your most enduring memory of the book?
The Two Minutes Hate and those bloody rats are prominent in my memory!
How important do you think it is for audiences to see 1984 onstage now, in 2017?
Just in our own country, the retention of metadata, the denial of basic human rights to our refugees, the criminalisation of whistleblowers, the secret, sickening treatment of our youth in detention centres, among many other things, signal that the Orwellian portents of 1984 continue to haunt us. This stage production viscerally animates the nightmares of the book and urges us to remain vigilant and never silent.