Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I saw the final performance of the ANIMAL FARM on March 7, 8pm at the Shouson Theatre in the Hong Kong Arts Centre. This production of a play based on George Orwell’s dystopian allegorical novella is part of the 38th Hong Kong Arts Festival.
This is not the first time I have seen a play based on Animal Farm, but this could be the most memorable one. The adaptation by Ian Wooldridge was clear and concise. It went directly to the very essence of the story of perfect ideals being interpreted and executed by imperfect humans (or animals). This production of Wild Rice from Singapore combined physical theatre, stylized stage design and live music into a very relevant and funny performance.

The whole play was performed by seven actors who switched characters every now and then. The play started with the actors transforming from humans to animals by foregoing clothing and mobile phones. Old Major, the old boar in Manor Farm, then talked about how humans are like parasites and hope one day, the animals will revolt and free themselves. The animal did revolt eventually and the Seven Commandments of Animalism was established and written on the wall of a barn. The most important is the seventh, "All animals are equal."

Not long after, when Mr. Jones tried to retake the farm, the “Battle of the Cowshed” took place. This scene provided some of the funniest moments in the play. My favorite was how the geese attacked Mr. Jones by shitting on him and when Mr. Jones shot one of them, Swan Lake music played and one of the geese did a mock ballet. Yes, it is these types of routines that were most effective, they were down-to-earth and easily shared.

Not long after, the pigs elevated themselves to become the leaders and then on, corruption and purging were not far. Soon, the pigs started to behave more and more like human and justified it by slowly changing the commandments to suit their needs. The play ended by showing the pigs cooperating with humans against the “lower class”.

All the actors played their parts very well, contributing to the success of the production. Above all, the whole team showed what a company of actors should be ideally like, they were versatile and played on each others strength. Singapore should be proud even with their Singlish accent.

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At May 3, 2010 at 5:41 PM , Blogger Uni said...

singlish is not an accent dummy. there is nothing wrong with the accent, it's still Good English.

At May 4, 2010 at 9:42 AM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

"Singlish is not an accent", then "nothing wrong with THE accent"... Hmmm... so is it or is it not an accent? Also, if it is good "English", then it must be the accent that distinguish it? Can't be the grammar, right?

The assumption behind "should be proud" is that they are "not proud"; thus I am stressing that they should be proud. Personally, I speak with an accent and I am not ashamed of it. The accent is part of me being a non-English native speaker and that I can not and do not want to deny.

At May 6, 2010 at 2:01 AM , OpenID myelysion said...

Actually I just watched the play today and afterwards, one of the actors said that the Singaporean accents they spoke with were delibrate and that the director wanted them to bring out their own (racial) identity in playing the role. I'm paraphrasing here but I think you understand what I mean.

At May 6, 2010 at 1:18 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

Accent is a very interesting subject. Sometimes, it defines the performance, and sometimes it is not relevant at all. Meryl Streep made a career out of accent. Sometimes the accent influences the way the actors act. When Animal Farm was presented here in Hong Kong, the accent came and went. It would be quite interesting to see them take more adavantage of this distinct cultural identity.


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