George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 remains one of the most influential literary works of all time, and now, Big Brother is taking over television. A new adaptation for the small screen is being developed through ABC chief Paul Lee's wiip studio venture, however this new take on the material will not be a straight-up version of the source material and will instead be based on the 2013 stage play by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. Icke and Macmillan have since made a joint statement regarding the project, with the pair hoping that the series will bring to light similarities between 1984 and today.
"As the world grapples with democracy and government in our divided age of surveillance, 'fake news' and truth decay, the urgency of Orwell's masterpiece is undeniable. The small screen feels like a natural home for his portrait of a society in which people trust their screens more than the world outside their windows."
Both Icke and Macmillan will be involved in developing the wiip show, with the plan reportedly to bring the play to life a five-part limited series. This planned 1984 television series will be run by David Flynn, who will also executive produce alongside Icke, Macmillan and Paul Lee. Icke and Macmillan have teased that this new adaptation will be a "bold new version" for modern times and reflect contemporary society and a world that is constantly tackling misinformation and falsities.
First published in 1949, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda. Great Britain, known as Airstrip One, has become a province of a totalitarian superstate named Oceania that is ruled by the Party who employ the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking. Big Brother, the leader of the Party, enjoys an intense cult of personality, though many wonder if he even exists. Our protagonist, Winston Smith, is a diligent and skillful rank-and-file worker and Outer Party member who secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion. He enters into a forbidden relationship with a colleague, Julia, and starts to remember what life was like before the Party came to power.
1984 has been adapted several times across many mediums, most famous of which is director Michael Radford's version starring John Hurt and Richard Burton.
Icke and Macmillan's stage show first launched at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2013 and enjoyed three separate runs on the West End, as well as playing at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway in 2017. The production was largely well-received by critics, winning several awards and garnering a reputation for its extreme torture scenes and fierce use of non-linear staging, strobe lights, and sudden blackouts. The play became known for the effect it had on some audience members, with some reportedly fainting, screaming at cast members, and many even being rendered a puking mess by the show's end. Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence is one such audience member, with the A-lister revealing that she attended a show before leaving and throwing up.
Amid the current climate, Icke and Macmillan have the opportunity to create something truly terrifying. This comes to us from Deadline.