The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 28, 2012

Play based on ’40s novel stirs political thought

By Sarah Guinn
Globe Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Director Ray Goepfert said he is fascinated by George Orwell’s novel, “1984,” and how a story written in the ’40s still holds political relevance in today’s society.

The stage adaptation of “1984” will be featured beginning next Thursday through Oct. 14 at Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre.

Written in 1949, Orwell’s novel focused on a state where everyone is monitored constantly and freedoms are limited, Goepfert said. Orwell used his novel as a platform to warn against a totalitarian approach to government.

And it’s no coincidence Goepfert chose to show “1984” just weeks before the impending presidential election.

“I’ve actually been trying to get this going for the last two election seasons,” he said. “It’s a play I’ve always wanted to do.”

Views presented in the play are unbiased, Goepfert said, even though its topics are political and revolve around societal functions and behaviors.

“It actually makes good points that are against both sides (of the political spectrum),” he said.

Taking Orwell’s story off of the pages and onto the stage has presented some challenges, Goepfert said. Although the overall performance of the play stays true to the novel, Goepfert said he has added video screens to the production instead of using a poster and a spotlight, which the script suggested.

The screen works as a way to show propaganda (something Orwell envisioned before the TV became a common household fixture) and also as a way for Big Brother to monitor society, instilling a theme of psychological manipulation.

“Nobody in the theatrical arena does (video), so I’ve had to outsource for talent,” he said.

Goepfert said the play has already sold out for its opening night production and thinks its political relevance has played a part in the ticket sales.

“I think it’s very relevant with the election season,” he said.

But Goepfert said he only expects “1984” to provoke showgoers’ thoughts; not any fierce debates.

“I don’t think this is the kind of show to cause political fights, but will cause political thought,” he said.