Featuring one of the most ambitious casts of puppets ever seen on stage, a new production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm arrives at Salford’s Lowry next month (March 22-26), before continuing to Blackpool Grand (April 19-23) and Liverpool Playhouse (April 26-30).
Master puppeteer Toby Olié, a member of the original creative team behind War Horse at the National Theatre, is breathing new life into Orwell’s fable of socialist revolution and its aftermath with puppet creations of Napoleon, Snowball, Boxer and the other animals of Manor Farm.
Olié says: “Every character, apart from the farmer, is an animal. We have over 30 life-sized puppets. Construction of the animals took eight and a half months – the longest puppet build we’ve ever undertaken.”
“All of the animal characters also talk, which is a challenge, but we found a really interesting way of making it work: we tell the story using each animal’s physicality, but then you hear their dialogue as if their actions are being translated for you.
“We’re also shifting perspective during the show, so you see moments of high-octane action in miniature puppet scale, and intimate, internal moments with life-sized puppets."
The production, presented by Children’s Theatre Partnership with Birmingham Rep, has been adapted and directed by the multi-award-winning Robert Icke (The Doctor, Hamlet, Mary Stuart, Oresteia, 1984) with set design from four-time Olivier award-winner Bunny Christie (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Company, Ink, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).
The show is aimed at those over 12, since some scenes might be unsuitable for younger children.
Info and tickets here