Nolan Braun is Winston Smith and Erica Ford is Julia in the Thomas Haney Secondary School production of George Orwell’s 1984.

Nolan Braun is Winston Smith and Erica Ford is Julia in the Thomas Haney Secondary School production of George Orwell’s 1984.

Big Brother is watching you

Thomas Haney secondary stages George Orwell’s 1984 in Maple Ridge

Thomas Haney secondary’s drama department journeys into a world of double-think and doublespeak on the heels of 40th provincial election with an adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.

For drama teacher Shelley Evans, 1984 couldn’t be more prescient.

“There is nothing like an election to draw the public’s attention to the value of democracy and the terribly despotic forms of government that have, and still do exist in the world,” she says.

“It is a cathartic play that renews one’s appreciation for the rights and freedoms we have in Canada.”

1984 is a play adapted by Robert Owens, Wilton E. Hall Jr. and William A. MilesJr. from Orwell’s novel about misplaced government authority.

It follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of falsifying records and crafting political literature.

Smith grows disillusioned with his meagre existence and begins a rebellion against the system.

The Thomas Haney production is double-cast with a minimal set that magnifies a world where opinion cannot be expressed freely, where leaders are not held accountable for their deceptions, where censorship is mandated by government; where Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery and War is Peace.

It is ironic that when the novel came out,  surveillance cameras and Google Earth were unfathomable, says Evans.

The world of Oceania in Orwell’s 1984 seemed, at best, an exaggerated portrait of the former USSR.

“How prophetic Orwell proved to be,” Evans added.

This stage adaptation depicts the horrors of man’s fate in a society where Big Brother is always watching — where everything that is not prohibited is compulsory.

“Does the play ring true?,” asks Evan.

“Have any malware on your computer? How about identity theft? It is dangerous to become as complacent as we have and it is critical to learn from the mistakes of the past so we don’t unwittingly follow those same paths.

As Orwell himself said. “I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe that something resembling it could arrive. The moral to be drawn from the dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”

• 1984 plays at Thomas Haney’s Sightlines Theatre, 23000 116th Avenue in Maple Ridge at 1 p.m. on May 22 and May 30 and 7 p.m. on May 23, 24, 29 and 31. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and students. To reserve, call 604-463-2001.

Maple Ridge News