The future-past becomes present

Giggling Iguana reimagines George Orwell's classic novel in 1.9.8.4.

Randi Edmundson (left), Tito Martin-Nemtin (top) with Erin Holmgren  in Giggling Iguana Productions’ 1.9.8.4..

Randi Edmundson (left), Tito Martin-Nemtin (top) with Erin Holmgren in Giggling Iguana Productions’ 1.9.8.4..

 

 

 

Giggling Iguana Productions is bringing the future-past to present day Victoria with its production of 1.9.8.4., an adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel by local playwright David Elendune.

Don’t adjust your telescreens, 1.9.8.4. is Newspeak for Orwell’s more dated title.

With 1984 no longer in the future, Elendune’s adaptation evolved into 1.9.8.4. (One Nine Eight Four) to free it from a specific time and allow it to be a re-imagining of present day Victoria, or Victory City.

And even though it’s been more than 60 years since the novel was published, and we’re almost 20 years past the time of the bleak future world Orwell imagined in his story, its themes are as relevant as ever: Power corrupts … and Big Brother is most certainly watching.

1.9.8.4. tells the story of Winston Smith (Eric Holmgren) and Julia (Ariel Slack) who, in the face of an all-controlling government, pursue an illegal love affair until they are captured. They are faced with a horrific re-education process, or “cure,” under the watchful guidance of the mysterious O’Brien.

Another twist in Elendune’s adaptation is that the role of O’Brien has been written for a female. Christine Karpiak was cast in the role.

“It’s a challenge to turn the enigma of 1984 into something that works for an audience,” explains director Roger Carr. “David’s done a wonderful job capturing the feel and spirit of Orwell’s original work while cleverly adding and updating elements. He’s breathed new life into the piece, making it feel both modern and familiar.”

The result is a “very compact and intense” 75- minute adaptation for the stage.

It’s been 13 years since Giggling Iguana has produced a play on a traditional stage (Equus in 1999 at the McPherson Playhouse), focusing instead on its site-specific performances, including the ever-popular annual Halloween show at Craigdarroch Castle.

Odly enough, it was Carr who directed their last conventional production.

“I guess I’m conventional,” he says with a snicker.

But Carr is widely known for directing some of Langham Court Theatre’s most unconventional performances, including the controversial Laramie Project and the recent sold-out run of The Drowsy Chaperone.

The production also stars Tito Martin-Nemtin and Randi Edmundson as the Chorus.

“They are speaker 1 and speaker 2, a man and woman who change characters throughout,” says Carr. “They’re almost narrators at times, at other times quite clown-like, and at other times very oppressive.”

But don’t expect the production to be akin to an “evening of jabbing themselves in the eye.”

“The mood — from the audience’s perspective sitting down to think about what I’m going to do on a Friday night — I say give it a shot, it’s incredibly theatrical. I think it will sweep people off their feet. It’s fun to watch, and although there are some bleak scenes, I think they’re all contextualized,” says Carr.

The multi-level set, featuring two large pillars, was designed by Carr and built by the inmates at William Head Institution. M

 

 

1.9.8.4.

Intrepid Theatre Club

(1609 Blanshard)

Nov. 21-24 at 8pm Until Dec. 2

Tickets are $20/16 at ticketrocket.org or 250-590-6291

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Most Read