Animal Farm
by George Orwell
created & adapted by shake & stir theatre co

Animal Farm, one of the most controversial and studied political commentaries returns to Brisbane in a multi-award winning, physical theatre production. Playing for a strictly limited season, George Orwell’s simple yet intensely powerful fairy tale illustrates with stunning clarity and grotesque beauty how greed and power corrupts and with devastating consequences, can change the course of history.

Revolution has taken place at Manor Farm. The pigs have assumed control and under the principles of Animalism a better life free from human service is promised to all. Guided by a simple set of rules and an unrelenting respect for authority, it is not long until the rules that promised freedom become the chains that bind the animals once again.

Directed by Michael Futcher and realised by shake & stir and a cast of Queensland’s most dynamic actors, Animal Farm promises to be one of the most shocking, relevant and wickedly funny theatre events of 2013. Pig in now to avoid disappointment.

“shake & stir nailed it. Physical theatre at its best.” Artshub

Adaptor Nick Skubij
Director Michael Futcher
Designer Josh McIntosh
Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright
Sound Designer Guy Webster
Featuring: Ross Balbuziente, Tim Dashwood, Nelle Lee, Bryan Probets & Nick Skubij 

“One of the most raw and essential pieces of theatre produced in this country in recent decades… Don’t miss your chance.” Australian Stage

“shake & stir’s production of George Orwell’s classic political allegory is a vigorously physical and impressive theatrical rendering. This is a work for any admirer of Orwell or anyone appreciative of good theatre in which a great story is told by people of real talent.” The Canberra Times

“A first-rate production of physical story-telling at its best. With this production shake & stir confirm themselves as some of the leading exponents of physical theatre… Brings Orwell’s terrible fairytale to the stage with style, wit and skill. Don’t miss it.” Greenroom

“It couldn’t have been much better: a contemporary theatre piece based on brilliant literature, an inventive interpretation, actors with verve and flexibility and canny direction … and an opening thirty seconds that sat us all forward on our seats.” Tamworth Country Life

“From the opening scene, shake & stir’s version of this infamous story snatches your attention and keeps a firm grasp until the horrifying conclusion.” The Barefoot Review – Canberra

“Do whatever you can to get a ticket”. The Courier-Mail

“shake & stir nailed it. Physical theatre at its best”. Artshub

“A must see!” 612ABC Radio

“This is one of the best productions I have seen in Brisbane”. Briztix

“With its electric blend of breathless narration, physical virtuosity and cracking dialogue, shake & stir theatre co do justice to Orwell’s dark, sometimes raucous, and always disturbingly confrontational text. Animal Farm is brought to visceral, menacing life here with startling conviction and magnificent skill.

Seasoned shake & stir theatre co veterans Nick Skubij, Nelle Lee and Ross Balbuziente are to be credited for their insight and expertise in adapting the text and bringing Animal Farm to life on stage.

Skubij’s is credited with the adaptation. His effort is true to the original material but not so slavish as to restrict the physicality and spontaneity required of a motley animal posse. Meanwhile as sinister tyrant Napoleon he is appropriately staid and unsympathetic. Nelle Lee masters the art of horseplay by turns as show-pony Mollie and matronly mare Clover. She embodies vainglorious frivolity or mature apprehension with her whole body, irresistibly charming and quietly hilarious. And Ross Balbuziente is a tower of strength and power as old workhorse Boxer – with a keen sense of comic timing and the best prop on stage. Probets is phenomenal in his approach to anything on hoof or paw, though never more so than as slimy porcine spin doctor, Squealer. Here his lean limbs and hungry eyes bespeak a corruption that need not task the audience with any great imaginative leap. In Probets Squealer is made fully alive, and every bit as revolting as Orwell intends.
This play is nothing if not unremittingly vibrant; just like any farmyard it is non-stop in its melee of action and noise. The chaos is raucous, the grief tangible. The sound increases in ominous layers of desperation and doubt until the final terrible crescendo, which we all know is nigh but hope might still change”. Brisbane Times

Best Independent Play of 2011 (2012 Matilda Awards)

Best Direction of 2011 (2012 Matilda Awards)

Best Play of 2011 (The Courier-Mail)

APACA Drover Award Tour of the year 2013

Suitable for a Grade 8 to 12 audience
Duration: 75 min + 10 min Q&A with cast
60 min post-show workshop available
Download the Teachers’ Notes [PDF 1.11MB]


  • Story Drama/Telling
  • Physical Theatre
  • Political Theatre
  • Contemporary Performance of Heritage Text
  • Characterisation/Animals

  • Power
  • Greed
  • Corruption
  • Class
  • Propaganda and Persuasion
  • Treachery

Animal Farm ticks all the right boxes – live performance, a Heritage text adapted into a Contemporary style, 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.

ANIMAL FARM 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.

History (Modern and Ancient) and SOSE
The ruling class, the proletariat, Socialism, Marxism. Concepts explored so frequently in the study of other societies and governments are all evident in ANIMAL FARM. Looking at the current political climate in Australia and the rest of the world, we see how one person can change the entire face of a country. Why not make these concepts relevant and current for your students?

Forming: Scriptwriting stimulus, directing styles, character development for improvisation or scripted Drama, adaptation of text to performance.
Presenting: 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 that includes curriculum connections, pre and post show class discussions and activities and extra insight into the production specifically for teachers and students.

60 minute post-show ANIMAL FARM workshop

Students can participate in a range of Physical Theatre and Storytelling activities led by theAnimal Farm actors after the performance. The actors will share the techniques they used during rehearsal and share valuable skills to aid in presenting drama using physicality. Places are limited and workshops are only available after certain performances. Call QPAC Groups on 3840 7127 for more details or to book.

Brisbane | Cremorne Theatre QPAC 23 August – 2 September 2011
Brisbane | Cremorne Theatre QPAC 15 May – 25 May 2013
National Tour February –  August 2013