1984
by George Orwell
created & adapted by shake & stir theatre co

Oceania; a Nation perpetually at war, where cameras watch every move and Thought Police roam the streets. A place Winston Smith calls home. By day, Winston is an editor at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to align the past with the current political agenda of the ruling party and its illusive leader, Big Brother. By night, Winston pursues a forbidden love affair with a mysterious woman in an attempt to rebel against Big Brother’s oppressive regime and maintain some control over his otherwise totally controlled life.

When Winston and his love are discovered, they are violently separated, detained and prepared for reintegration back into society. But can human nature truly be changed?

From the team that brought you Animal Farm, this new adaptation brings George Orwell’s final novel screaming into the present.

Adaptors Nelle Lee & Nick Skubij
Director Michael Futcher
Designer Josh McIntosh
Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright
Sound Designer Guy Webster
Media Producers optikal bloc
Featuring: Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee, Bryan Probets, Nick Skubij & David Whitney

” This is one of the most carefully integrated productions I’ve experienced. The emotional circumstances conjured by Orwell in print are superbly realised on stage.” The Border Mail, Albury

“The cast were nothing short of phenomenal, seemingly leaping straight from the pages of the book and materialising onto the stage”. Barefoot Review, Canberra

“This production is superb and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

“In his famous essays on clear language, George Orwell counselled against the use of the “decorative adjective”, which is a shame because this adaptation calls for a slew of superlatives.” ACT, Stage Whispers

“This powerful stage adaptation by Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij is remarkable.”

“The superb five-member ensemble which makes up the cast, who, between them, people the stage with a seeming multitude of characters so that the audience often feels it is watching an epic rather than an ensemble of just five actors. ”

“The detail and commitment of the performances, as well as the meticulous mounting of the production is nothing less than astonishing.” Canberra Critics Circle

“An impressive adaptation… shake & stir sets the bar high.” The Canberra Times

“The cast of five are very strong… this is a production that dramatises Orwell’s ideas with flair and intensity.” Sydney Morning Herald

“You shouldn’t miss it! This is a powerful production. It will stay with me just as did the book when I read it so many years ago.

Co-adaptors Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij have transferred every frightening nuance of Orwell’s bleak future into a very desolate third dimension.

Bryan Probets plays this haunted man with scary verisimilitude. He is ably supported by Nelle Lee, Nick Skubij, Ross Balbuziente and David Whitney – all of whom bring a similar wealth of experience and concentrated talent to the production.” NSW Stage Whispers

“Big Brother would approve. The audience was gripped… from the beginning to the end. Australian theatre is very much a world leader.” The Newcastle Herald

“A cracking adaptation of Orwell’s anti-fascism masterpiece… A superb ensemble. This is what you call seriously captivating theatre.” ABC North Coast NSW

Ms Lee and Mr Skubij are part of the first-rate onstage cast of five which also includes Ross Balbuziente, David Whitney and Bryan Probets, who is truly excellent as the hapless and doomed Winston Smith.” AussieTheatre NSW

Reviews from shake & stir theatre co’s production of 1984, Cremorne Theatre QPAC 2012

“It’s a triumphant return to QPAC for energised young theatremakers Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij, following the roaring success of last year’s Animal Farm by returning to the wellspring of Orwell.

“The team who wove their magic on Animal Farm have reunited, anchored by director Michael Futcher, whose attention to every detail would, one imagines, make him one hell of a plate-spinner.

“It all points to another victory for a young company who give so much back to the theatre community, and work towards bringing theatre to the regions and into schools. Their adaptations of classic texts are done with innovation, soul and meticulous care.

“To borrow from Newspeak, “doubleplusgood” doesn’t quite do 1984 justice. Can Big Brother approve us going up to “tripleplusgood”?” The Courier-Mail

“Wonderful, wonderful production… Everyone gives 110% – I just loved it!” 612ABC Radio, Doug Kennedy

“This is a flawless production, with flawless performances from the cast of five. In fact, I couldn’t fault anything about it, and the fact that I was almost physically sick with tension and terror says as much about Michael Futcher and his cast as it does about the power of George Orwell to chill us to the bone.” A Little Gossip, Allison Coates
shake & stir have done a stunning job realizing this work for the stage… This show gets into your head… This is Brisbane’s theatre at its finest.” Theatre People

shake & stir’s ability to bring classic, world changing literature to the main stage is double-plus awesome. It’s rare to see a book adaptation that feels whole and complete in its own right.” Aussie Theatre

“There’s a fine pedigree of proven experience and youthful vigour in this cast which promises much and delivers on cue. Probets is arresting and brave as Winston Smith… arguably the best single performance of the year!” Brisbane Times

“Fearless and flawless.” XS Entertainment

“In my humble opinion, this little jewel of a production confirms shake & stir’s place in the commonwealth of national theatres. 1984 is a cracker of a production – intelligent and theatrically clever.” Greenroom

Brisbane | Cremorne Theatre QPAC 16 August – 1 September 2012
Brisbane | Cremorne Theatre QPAC 15 July – 2 August 2014
National Tour March – August 2014

by George Orwell
adapted by shake & stir theatre co

Download the 1984 Teachers Resource Kit

Suitable for a Grade 8 to 12 audience

Duration: 90 min + 10 min Q&A with cast

Curriculum Connections

  • Story Drama/Telling
  • Political Theatre
  • Multimedia Theatre
  • Physical Theatre
  • Contemporary Performance of Heritage TextThemes/Ideas
  • Power/Totalitarianism
  • Independence/Identity
  • Love/Sexuality
  • Propoganda/Persuasion
  • Poverty vs Wealth
  • Technology
  • Language
  • Corruption
  • Social Classes

Subject Connections

Drama: 1984 offers many possibilities – live performance, a Heritage text adapted into a contemporary style, multimedia and physical performance and a range of theatrical mediums. From a Year 8 student who is experiencing and learning about a live performance for the first time to a well seasoned Senior Drama student who is critiquing the performance for a Responding Task, this is a must see for your students.

English: 1984 is a well used and loved text in the English Curriculum in Queensland and Australia. The complex narrative and development of characters will be explored in a user friendly and engaging way, making the breakdown easier for students. The contemporary nature of the performance styles used will give your students the edge in understanding one of the most relevant texts for our times.

The Possibilities

Forming: Scriptwriting stimulus, directing styles, character development for improvisation or scripted Drama, adaptation of text to performance.
Performing: Performance styles, the role of the actor.
Responding: Responding to live theatre, exploring the purpose of theatre.

This production comes with a comprehensive Teachers Resource Kit compiled by shake & stir theatre co’s Education Liaison, Naomi Russell. The kit includes curriculum connections, pre and post show class discussions and activities and extra insight into the production specifically for teachers and students.