DAVID Whitney first studied George Orwell’s 1984 as a student at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.
But the Australian actor never thought he would perform onstage as one of the story’s most despised characters.
Now, more than two decades later, Whitney will take on the role of O’Brien as part of Shake and Stir Theatre’s adaptation of the classic novel.
Described as a ‘theatrical event’, the production will be staged against a towering wall of plasma screens, set to take the audience into Big Brother’s world.
Whitney said lovers of the book would be impressed with how the production was staged.
“As soon as I saw what (the company) had done, and that it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book but brought into the 21st century with digital technology, I didn’t hesitate to take on the role,” he said.
“O’Brien is such a wonderful character because he transforms and I get to play lots of different colours with him.”
1984 follows the story of Winston Smith, an editor at the Ministry of Truth whose role it is to rewrite history to align with the political agenda of the ruling party and its leader Big Brother.
The story is set in Oceania, a nation at perpetual war and where cameras watch one’s every move and the Thought Police roam the streets.
Whitney said even though the novel was written in the late 1940s, the themes explored were as relevant today as ever.
“I re-read the novel for this project and I realised how surveillance in particular has increased,” he said.
“CCTV wasn’t even invented then but now it’s so prevalent. It’s quite extraordinary that Orwell could see it.
“You could argue that modern-day surveillance techniques are there for your protection, but our digital footprint is being watched at every moment.
“You could also argue that it’s not necessarily for our own good.”