|FARMANIMALFARM, directed, written and scored
by Rolando Macrini of Viterbo, Italy, is a contemporary adaptation of George
Orwell’s political satire, "AnimalFarm." It premiered August
8, 2003 in celebration of the centennial of Orwell’s birth at Civita
di Bagnoregio at the CivitArte Festival. This production is by The University
Theatre Center "La Torre" of the Tuscia University in Viterbo,
Italy, in collaboration with the Teatro Eliocentrico (Heliocentric Theater).
In Orwell's story, a group of barn animals overthrow their human masters
and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually the animals'
intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, sabotage the revolution
and form a dictatorship whose bondage is even more oppressive than that
of their former human masters. The pigs, along with their ruthless leader,
Napoleon, thus become the ruling class and the decision makers of the
farm. It is a story of a revolution betrayed by its own leaders.
Director Rolando Macrini has created a new sound language that reveals
the intimate identity of the animals, a sort of ESP for horses, chickens,
sheep, donkeys and pigs. There is also, in his words, an "intense
conception of space and rhythm" that simulates the fields, farm,
and the windmill. The result is a tribute to the author's genius and a
bold experiment in translating prose into a theatrical form of art. The
play utilizes "words in verses, verses that become words, sounds,"
according to Macrini.
The play also speaks through the dramatic movements of the actors' bodies
and limbs. The visual concept is particularly striking: orthopedic props
and equipment such as crutches, aluminum walkers, support corsets and
collars, transform the stage into a geriatric hospital ward, an example
of the life conditions in which animals are kept for domestic exploitation
and for the slaughterhouse. The visual impact is shocking and prompts
reflection on the exploitation and torment of the animal world by cruel
humans. The ending place of "Farmanimalfarm" and Orwell's masterpiece
are the same: the emptiness and delusion of power, of revolution, and
|NY Theatre Wire
by Clarissa Laurens
November 9, 2003
"FarmanimalFarm" is not exactly
the kind of show which makes its audience well-at-ease. That is certainly
a sign that director and writer Rolando Macrini reached his goal,
which is a meaningful adaptation of George Orwell's "AnimalFarm"
A show based on a novel whose point is to depict a fictive totalitarian
system is obviously not joyful and entertaining. Moreover, while
the novel allows the reader to take a kind of analytical distance
by embodying a human community in a group of barn animals, the inverted
vision of human beings acting as animals on stage is both striking
and troubling. It indeed highlights the very primitive dimension
lying in human fights for political leadership, as well as the animal
survival instinct pushing individuals into submission. Do not expect,
therefore, to exit the performance in a state of optimistic excitement,
but rather with a great will for reflection.
The production by The University Theatre Center " La Torre"
of the Tuscia University in Viterbo (Italy)-- in collaboration with
the Teatro Eliocentrico --comes as a celebration of the centennial
of George Orwell's birth and has its American premiere until November
16 at La MaMa E.T.C. Its distinctive feature lies in the use of
an animal-like language comprised of non-articulate sounds, which
is at first destabilizing but interestingly enough focuses the attention
on the actors' corporal expression. The exercise is demanding for
the performers and for the audience since the show does not adhere
to regular theatrical standards. In short, this is experimental
theater requiring an open-minded reception.
"FarmanimalFarm" tells the story of an animal community
enduring the dictatorship of one of its members after deposing a
former human tyrant and trying to set up an egalitarian society.
The show displays each step of the totalitarian process, from the
euphoric revolution to the increasing repression. Not to mention
the setting of a new work organization with the complicity of a
friendly visitor coming to buy goods and pretending to ignore the
awful life conditions within the farm.
Both music and props create an oppressive atmosphere, so that you
feel as stuck as the enslaved animals on stage. At the beginning
of the show the actors put on white masks (designed by Francesco
Cerra) evocative of animal skeletons, and grasp medical equipment
such as crutches and aluminum walkers to represent various animal
species. The whole stage is filled with physical diseases--the supposed
reflection of a political disorder--and appears as a huge hospital
The musical background changes in accordance with the scenes, helping
in the comprehension of this non-speaking play. At the end of the
performance, the actors eventually take off their masks and scrutinize
the audience with a newly recovered human appearance, probably to
remind them of their own underlying primitive instincts.
In the middle of the performance, the members of the ensemble (including
Ciccio Rasiti, Paco Milea, Margherita Vestri, Stas Baladin, Silvia
Giorno, Marco Marsili, Olimpia Ariani and Ilaria Passeri) stopped
acting for a few seconds, seemingly to congratulate each other.
I may have gotten this moment wrong. If it was a moment of mutual
reassurance, it is not a common practice. I imagined that the actors
needed encouragement to go on, since it is a challenge to imitate
animal behavior for more than an hour and a half.
The audience would perhaps need an encouragement too, since attending
"FarmanimalFarm" is challenging for the brain. As long
as you keep in mind that you will not attend a delighting show but
rather a challenging one, it is worth taking a walk to La MaMa until