Blast from the past with BHS production of Orwell’s 1984

Cast and crew of Beaverton High School’s production of Geroge Orwell’s 1984 during final
bows on Friday, December 11th

Kimaia Gassner

Cast and crew of Beaverton High School’s production of Geroge Orwell’s 1984 during final bows on Friday, December 11th

A world without thought is a world without freedom. That is the story portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984. 

Beaverton High School’s drama department spent their fall season preparing a play version of this American classic novel. 1984 was a futuristic novel for its time taking place in the year 1984 (far ahead of its publishing). Civilization is split into three main territories, with the storyline taking place in the land of Oceana. The land is ruled by a totalitarian government led by the face of Big Brother. The story takes place in a time where speech is limited with the invention of a simplified version of the English language called newspeak, which has the end goal of enslaving the minds of people by limiting freedom of thought and speech.

Led by a strong cast consisting of Blake McKizzie as Winston Smith, Annie Drechsel as Julia, and Kayla Hunter as the role of O’Brien, the play was a great retelling of Orwell’s 1984. 

“We were true to the book and true to Orwell’s vision and the spirit and theme of the story,” said Shannon Dery, Drama teacher.

Beaverton’s adaption of 1984 maintained the themes of totalitarianism, manipulation, and the control of mind, language, and history. Also bringing in the Big Brother philosophies of doublethink and newspeak, the show accurately portrayed Orwell’s famous work.

With an amazing reaction from the crowd, the play was described as “double plus good!” from the audience as they played on words from the newspeak language.

The play presented difficulties as the main characters were so dynamic, it was almost like playing multiple characters at the same time for the actors. 

“I had to convince Winston and Julia that I was on their side, then snap and turn becoming the bad guy, revealing that I had been tricking them all along,” said Hunter on her role as O’Brian. “It was very hard to play both of those parts equally just as well as all of the other parts in the play.”

Also integrating hard-to-use technologies, the drama team faced issues on its opening night. Correcting their mistakes, they came back with an outstanding performance on their Friday night show, creating a performance Orwell would have been proud to see.

“A lot of the play’s success is due to the tech workers who did such an amazing job with the sound and the video and the stage crew,” said McKizzie.

The crew helped the play move along while visually adding to the story’s development. With well-thought-out yet simplistic set designs, the crew transitioned quickly while still giving the equipment crew time to set up the following scene.

“The script we picked played out like a 50s sitcom and it read really stiff,” said Dery. “We used that script as a template for our final product as we got rid of some of the parts and added some of our own ideas.”

Ultimately, the story presented a serious plotline consisting of well-timed comedic relief to add to the play experience.

Drama has plans for the rest of this school year. Coming up in January is The Children’s Hour directed by Anah Peacock. Later in the year, the drama department will feature The Breakfast Club, directed by Kayla Hunter. Drama is also fundraising for the rights to do a Grease musical set for May of this school year. With these and many more shows coming up, the department is excited to show off its skills to the community and grow as a program.