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1976 Play: Animal Farm

Senior House Drama

Jan 15, 1975
1976 Play: Animal Farm - KnockUnion.ie

CAST

Readers: Conor Gearty, James Lucey, Sean Louth, Peter Flood, John Hennessy, Simon Healy, Brian Byrne

Miners: Conor Kelly, Gerard O'Flaherty, Gerald Reilly

STAGE

Lighting: Maurice Shipsey

Music: Arthur Gill

Stage Manager: Edward Kelliher

FEELING confident as a result of the great response to last year's play. " A l l the King's Horses", we decided this year to concentrate our efforts on a play which, whilst being more demanding, would also be more original. With this in mind, and also the fact that a mere three weeks separated us from the night of the performance on December 8th, Mr. Wafer turned to "Animal Farm", a dramatisation of Orwell's famous book which relied on readings for its backbone and miming for its colour. As the adaptor of the book, Mr. Nelson Bonar, put it: "Readings are at once the oldest and the newest form of dramatic entertainment". To the readings we attempted to add a further dimension, by introducing another very old dramatic form, mime.

Havoc reigned during the rehearsals as the ten actors attempted to combine the exaggerated postures demanded by mime with the careful concentration of good timing:'so necessary in a production of this sort. So extravagant were some of the scenes that the cast were apprehensive as to their ability to keep a straight face on the night of the performance. Certainly it seemed impossible at rehearsals with, amongst many others, Simon Healy's superbly feminine reproduction of the white mare. Molly, and Peter Flood's crazy posture as bicycling Mr. Whymper bringing very human laughter to the "Animals" assembled around. Fortunately, the book is littered with such incidents which allowed us to explore the potentialities of mime to the full. For us the ordinary rules of drama simply did not apply. Gerald Reilly. whether he was a sheep, pig or cat. was invariably killed three times every rehearsal. Fortunately for the success of the play, Gerald had the knack of a quick recovery each time! In the course of the performance any one reader had many hats to wear. He could have been a dog. cat. pig. donkey, human or a kaleidoscope of other creatures. Brian Byrne, for instance, had scarcely time to collect wood as the evil Fredrick before being called upon to expound the advantages of the 'socialist' system of that obese pig. Squealor.

 This production was, however, more than anything else a team job, and no one individual could be singled out as superior to any other. All contributed equally in their multitude of roles to the successful presentation of the play. In the strength of their voices, the controlled exaggeration of their miming, the cast far surpassed even their wildest dreams. Special mention must be made of the back-stage crew. Maurice Shipsey. whose super electronics work on the lights culminated with the merging of humans and pigs in the final scene, a merging whose effect was almost solely due to Maurice's imagination. Arthur Gill, also, for the timing and choice of his music, and Edward Kelliher. whose constant carpentry made the show a possibility.

Gratitude must also be extended to Mr. Cummins and Fr. Rafferty, who helped present the most original make-up yet seen on a 'Knock stage, an originality which mirrored the entire production. We are very grateful to our producer. Mr. Wafer—the success of the play owes much to his persistence and imagination.

In the final analysis, this year's play showed what can be done by diligent teamwork. We experimented and. thanks to all, we tasted the fruits of success.