PLAYING ORWELL THE MAN
To Orwell Today,
I found your excellent site today via a link from Writer's Almanac on the anniversary of Robert Frost's reading at JFK's inaurgural.
I have been searching in vain for a theatre piece that features Orwell. Not an adaptation of his work but the man himself. A one man play. Or perhaps a duet with Sonia towards the end of his life. I have heard of a one-man show called "The Last Man in Europe". I can't find a script for it. I have seen a picture from a production that looks more slick in an English Tweed sort of way which is not what I am seeking. The following excerpt from Orwell's "Confessions of a Book Reviewer" is more in the line of what I am after:
"In a cold but stuffy bed-sitting room littered with cigarette ends and half-empty cups of tea, a man in a moth-eaten dressing-gown sits at a rickety table, trying to find room for his typewriter among the piles of dusty papers that surround it. He cannot throw the papers away because the wastepaper basket is already overflowing, and besides, somewhere among the unanswered letters and unpaid bills it is possible that there is a cheque for two guineas which he is nearly certain he forgot to pay into the bank ... He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak he will be suffering from a hangover."
This may not contain an accurate physical description of Orwell but it has an emotional resonance that I would like to portray. If you know of any pieces in this vein I would appreciate your guidance.
What a great idea - a one-man stage production of Orwell being himself.
I haven't heard of the one-man theatre production THE LAST MAN IN EUROPE but I have a VHS copy of the one-man show put on by BBC entitled ORWELL'S LIFE IN PICTURES which I was disappointed in. It portrayed him differently than I had imagined his mannersims, facial expressions, voice, body language etc (although he was wearing his tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows which is copied by intellectuals and college professors to this day).
The excerpt you chose from CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK REVIEWER is one of my favourite descriptions of Orwell because it is so accurate (probably because it is he himself who wrote it!).
To get a flavour of Orwell so you can develop a script which portrays him with "emotional resonance" I suggest you get the book ORWELL REMEMBERED by Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick which is based on BBC's Arena programme which was televised in three parts in early 1984. It has 52 interviews of friends, family, fellow writers and other people who crossed paths with Orwell at some point in his life.
All the best,
PS - In my HOMAGE TO ORWELL and PILGRIMAGE TO ORWELL you can read stories about him and see the places where he lived, worked and socialized.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON ORWELL
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