What happens when farm animals become tired of their caretakers? Naturally, they revolt.

“Animal Farm”

Friday at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Studio One, Walgreen Drama Center

The Basement Arts play “Animal Farm,” derived from George Orwell’s original communist satire, is based on Joseph Stalin’s Russian revolution of the mid-20th century. Not finding the pleasing result they expected after their uprising, the animals begin to question whether life was better when they were subordinates.

The show’s director, Lou King, a junior in the schools of LSA and Music, Theatre & Dance, found inspiration to put on the play after reading an article with a similar story.

“I read an article about this tent city that developed in Providence, R.I., where a group of homeless individuals had created this utopian society where they had their own rules and their own code of life,” King said. “Everyone worked for the good of the community and they would kick people out if you were to do anything that was against their code.”

“Eventually, the people revolted against their leader because they thought his codes were becoming ridiculous, and it reminded me of reading ‘Animal Farm’ junior year of high school,” King added.

The play contains many of the same points that Orwell made about political society as a whole.

“I was really drawn by the novel about what the human says in the end when the pigs are meeting them, that you have your lower animals to contend with and you have your lower classes. That was the inspiration of the production and how we ended up performing it,” King said. “The play in general discusses ideas of health care for the elderly, retirement, the strong protecting the weak; these rules that would be in the ideal society. We see how it plays out, and it doesn’t play out in a utopian way.”

King worked with many students in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance as well as the School of Art & Design to create an entertaining visual and auditory experience for the audience.

“The play ended up being very sculpturally based. The costumes are made out of recycled and found materials,” King explained. “The music that you will hear was composed directly for the show, and it features puppetry.”

Erin Murray, a junior in the School of Art & Design, worked as the costume director for “Animal Farm,” and worked with King during her freshman year in an East Quad production of “Girl in the Goldfish Bowl.”

“I had to collaborate with Lou to see what his vision was and made the costumes using trash basically,” Murray said. “It’s kind of puppetry based; most of the animals are removed from the actor that is playing them. It was really exciting seeing the costumes I worked on for so long be worn by the cast members.”

“Animal Farm” will be set in the Providence-inspired tent city, the trash being the only provisions for the animals’ survival.

“Aside from just being a junkyard, we also have a large windmill structure that will extend into the grid of Studio One, and the play will be more a part of the audience instead of them just facing the stage,” King added.

Through working on “Animal Farm,” King has been able to explore a new area of theater, encourage the actors and designers to reach their full potentials and create a balance between the political and artistic aspects of the performance. He also expressed a correlation between the production’s theme and the interactions involving the homeless in the U.S.

“The treatment of homeless people in America is correlated with the animals in the play,” King said. “Just walk down State Street, you ignore and avoid the homeless. It’s dehumanizing, and these animals are dehumanized individuals as well.”

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