George Orwell completed his final novel, which was to make bring him world-wide fame, in 1948. Two years later, the controversial author and socialist died in London at the age of 46 from a lung haemorrhage. He was both watched suspiciously by the British secret service because of his alleged treasonable intentions and communist activities, and rejected by pro-Soviet forces for his open criticism of any form of totalitarian rule.
The novel 1984 deals with the quasi-religious will to achieve total power that conceals the urge of individuals to attain god-like immortality – an urge of nearly unsurpassable hubris.
In the name of “Big Brother”, an intangible, omniscient authority, self-appointed “priests of love” construct a world where people are forced to completely relinquish their individual will, their love and desire, their own interests, their personal curiosity and creativity.
As one of the first modernist authors, Orwell described the fundamental methods that serve to construct and, even more importantly, maintain totalitarian rule. Far more than subjection through punishment, it is about controlling people’s thoughts, consciousness and desire. It is not enough to meekly accept the repression of any kind of individual freedom, the repressed must actually learn to love their circumstances.
In his adaptation, Belgian director LUK PERCEVAL focusses on the resistive, erotic power of two lovers, Julia and Winston, who defy this system. Perceval is considered to be one of the great story-tellers, searching for atmospheric concentration and emotional intensity. Following Exil by Lion Feuchtwanger, this is his second production at Berliner Ensemble.