Saturday, 10 June 2017

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

I suppose it's a little late now - but then again it's never too late to pick up a classic (as I am duly learning), but the play 1984 that has just (literally just) closed in Melbourne was amazing and you should have seen it/I'm so glad that you saw it! It was, as the name suggests an adaptation of Orwell's dystopian classic. The production originated in the UK but arrived in Melbourne this year with an Australian cast. The gentleman who plays the un/lovable Winston, actually also held the titular role of Jasper Jones in the production of Jasper Jones last year. What a guy! 

I believe that this production was quite different to those put on previously (alas I can't say that I know first hand) as the directors included the appendix in the play. Not so obviously tacked on at the end of course but built into it neatly. Reading the program and the comments from the writer it of course makes sense - after all, the history is not 'truth' per se but part of the fictitious narrative Orwell so thoroughly crafted. If you can't tell I loved it and the book! It will be interesting then I suppose to see how the Handmaid's Tale will tackle the historical note in the TV series. 

I will confess that we only bought tickets the week before we went to see it so sadly missed out on the $30 for under 30s but never mind. This last buying also alerted me to the fact that I hadn't actually read 1984 before despite it being under my bed for about two years - and I work in a bookshop! So I went into frenzy mode of quick read it as I tried to beat the clock. In the end I got half way (and was holding the text in the theatre, ironically the Comedy Theatre) as we were walking into our seats. In hindsight, it was actually a good thing because it was familiar enough for me to appreciate the quotes from the book, understand the premise to minimise staging confusion and just avoid feeling like a total novice. But not knowing the second half (like, at all) I wasn't expecting the violence, fear or surprise which honestly made the whole message of the novel hit a lot harder. Which was terrifying but also really cool. Moral of the story read half of books only. Joking, I quickly read the rest after. I went with some friends and we had to have a massive debrief on the train home.

Additional to the excitement and enjoyment of watching the play it [NERD ALERT] made me rerealise how important media is in learning and understanding why the world is like it is, and more so why words are more than just communication but instead represent entire systems and ways of living - taking Newspeak as an example. It also made me miss when I used to study literature in school when you would pore over a single text for a term just debating every theme and symbol. Even if you made stuff up half the time, it didn't matter because it just proved that there were so many layers of meaning in the text. Even now when I'm studying media, it's interesting to consider different media as important, not necessarily the content itself but why it's significant as a representation and reflection of the time that it was created in. 

Basically, the point of this mini epiphany is that I am now dedicated to starting a book club where we will first tackle 20th century classics because I have read too little! I did read Animal Farm the other day too and it did not disappoint. But I digress, apparently Ulysses is too hardcore for a book club but it'd be a little bit awesome if we worked on it a few chapters at a time. Being in a book club also forces you to be accountable for actually reading the book! 

I love that lots of our classics are my dad's from the 70s with yellowing pages but I want to start building my own collection too! 

So far I an keeping a keen eye out for the Annotated Edition of 1984 published by Modern Classics - I love those editions, and the play script of the 1984 play. I can't wait!

Here is a super link to the production's education resource if you'd like to find out more about the play itself. Spoilers though. 

What classic have you missed but promised yourself you'd read (for the past five years...)?


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