and Magic's play 'Big Brother is Watching' at the Lionel Wendt from
June 6-8 brings us face to face with an all powerful system
Imagine a world where you cannot think what you
you cannot speak what you think... where your every move is watched...
where there is no freedom of choice... where every fundamental,
basic human right is denied. Now imagine everyone around you behaving
as if this abnormal situation was the norm. What can you do? Where
can you turn for help? Whom can you trust? Can you even trust yourself?
When Big Brother
speaks, everyone listens. When he orders, everyone obeys.
a worker in the Ministry of Truth, has been growing disillusioned
with the Big Brother system - a system he can no longer justify,
let alone follow. Though it has been stirring within him for some
time, he cannot let it dwell on his mind lest it should show on
his face, and make him guilty of thoughtcrime and facecrime - popular
categories of crime in the new regime.
The story focuses
on Smith, and takes him through the trauma of his emotions as he
is faced with love - a forbidden emotion, the dilemma of marriage
- a forbidden institution, and choice - a forbidden option. Once
he breaks through the first barrier, he plunges into his hatred
of the regime with full force, too confident of his strengths to
realize that the system may have ways of forcing him into conformity.
The play brings
to light some disturbing realities of modern life and power tactics.
People working next to you suddenly vanish, and all traces of them
are removed to such an extent that you begin to doubt if they ever
existed at all. Can we ever begin to understand how a person can
become an "unperson", and even if we did, could we ever
condone it? We start off by believing that War can never mean Peace,
in the same way that Freedom is the opposite of Slavery. But the
twisted logic of those in power, translated to the forceful propaganda
that they drill into the masses, does exactly that. It brings us
to the point that we might accept that War is really another word
for Peace, that Ignorance is Strength, and that most of the people
living under the regime are not really alive after all.
There is a
certain heroism in each individual, fuelled perhaps by the fact
that most stories and films of today end with the good guys defeating
the bad guys.
We take pride
in the fact that some of us would never betray our ideals, even
in the face of the worst torture that we could undergo. However,
sometimes, it is not our heroism that makes it possible for us to
be true to our ideals, but the fact that the torturer has not discovered
the exact form of torture that we would respond to. What do we fear
the most? It varies with each individual - for some, it is heights,
for others, it is fire, while spiders, rats, closed spaces all work
to a different extent, depending on the person's prior experience.
Big Brother is so efficient, so thorough in his knowledge of the
individual, that he knows exactly what form of torture will work,
and he doesn't even have to actually USE it to get results.
The story of
Big Brother is not an Orwellian dig at the failed experiment of
Communism. We are too jaded for that. It, however, assumes great
significance to us in the light of the recent developments in the
world, culminating in the war on Iraq. How easy it is to control
the minds of the people, when you can control the media which feeds
them information... How easy it is to get everyone to approve your
actions, when you control the forum in which approval is sought...
These are some
ideas that have been circulated in the last few months, though it
has never openly been discussed.
Is it our own
fear of "crimespeak" that keeps us quiet? Or is it the
fact that we realize that when the system is too strong, and we
are too weak, it is better to keep silent...
StageLight&Magic Inc.'s production of Big Brother is Watching
goes on the boards of the Lionel Wendt Theatre from June 6-8. Big
Brother is Watching is a play based on the book '1984' by George
Orwell and directed by Feroze Kamardeen.
stars Marsh Dodanwela, Kisholi de Mel, Chamath Arambewela, Neluka
Silva, Wanda Godlieb, Nishani Jayamaha, Kisholi Mendis, Arjuna Koralagama
and Dininda Paranahewa.
sponsors of StageLight&Magic Inc., for the year 2003 are Dialog
GSM, John Keells Institute, The Golden Key Company Limited and the
National Lotteries Board. The Official Costume Designer is Sonali
White of the Haddai Label. Yes FM is the electronic media sponsor
and The Sunday Times is the official newspaper.