Award-winning theatre company Back Alley Productions announces its upcoming virtual performance of dystopian drama “1984,” based on the famous George Orwell book of the same name. Visit https://www.BAPshows.com for tickets and more information.

Back Alley Productions, or BAP, will stream the theatrical production online Friday and Saturday evening on July 31, Aug. 1, Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. A direct link to the show will be provided in an email at the time of purchase. Tickets are valid for one device and can be reused for each performance.

BAP, like most performing arts venues, shut its doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This performance will be its first show since shutting down. The performance will be completely live, with actors performing at the Mars Theatre, while the audience will be viewing from the safety and convenience of their smartphones, laptops and tablets.

“We’ve very excited to have Director Gavin Russell finally bring his vision of 1984 to life in this new online format,” Executive Producer Kaylee Smith adds. “We paused our entire season the day before his show was slated to open. For a director and cast there’s nothing more heartbreaking.

“But we’re excited to go online and try something innovative. We’ve been spending time learning new skills and finding ways to optimize the online streaming experience for our viewers. 1984 is going to be a truly special, professional and high quality experience,” Smith said.

In George Orwell’s nightmarish world of “1984,” Winston Smith struggles with life in an alternative reality where the authoritarian Big Brother government controls the populace with an ever watchful eye. Free thought and free speech are banished, and compliance is enforced through omniscient surveillance and secret police.

“Though ‘1984’ is set 36 years ago in an alternate timeline of our own world, many of the themes presented share a shocking resemblance to our modern world,” Director Gavin Russell said. “When Orwell conceived of mass surveillance, he had no idea how much further we would go in just a few short decades. Our modern context has radically changed the urgency of ‘1984.’”

Defying the national ban on individual thinking, Winston dares to express his own personal thoughts in a diary, and then pursues love with another human named Julia. Both actions are deeply criminal and don’t go unnoticed. Soon Winston must face a choice: either he conforms to the collective... or face the dire consequences.

“Winston’s struggle echoes some of our own struggles because there’s less and less room to be a free individual in the digital age,” Russell adds. “Often you must adhere to a group completely, or face banishment. Not to mention that everywhere we go can be tracked, all the pictures we take are shared freely in a mass database we all contribute to, and we have listening devices and cameras literally around us at all times. It’s Orwell’s worst nightmare.”

Additionally, Russell notes, many companies and politicians of all backgrounds have embraced massive data-mining on everyone for advertising and political purposes, some more insidious than others.

“Looking at our current socio-political landscape makes the ideas of ‘1984’ incredibly important,” he said. “We’re often willing participants, almost unconscious about the kinds of technology we freely accept into our lives without any serious debate or skepticism.”

Russell notes that it’s not a far fetched idea that more and more governments will look like Big Brother as technology advances.

“As time passes the story of ‘1984’ becomes more relevant,” he said. “It’s easy for leaders — even regular people — to buy into a philosophy that: if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear. But ‘1984’ warns us that it’s a little more nuanced than that, and a world without debate is a slippery slope. The scary thought is that Big Brother governments don’t typically show up overnight. Rather, they start small: re-educating and dehumanizing over the long-term to cultivate complete obedience.”

Though there’s no heavy adult content, “1984” contains some themes that are not intended for younger audience members, including unsettling concepts about oppression. Some scenes may be considered frightening or disturbing.

“Replacing the magic of live theatre is impossible,” Smith notes, “but to bring this show to fruition, even on a digital platform, feels like a positive step forward for our company, our cast and crew, and for the local arts as a whole. We hope you join us online.”

Visit https://www.BAPshows.com or call 706-621-2870 for more information.

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