NEW YORK (AP) — The audience at the opening night on Broadway of a new stage adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian fantasy “1984” will include a special guest — the author’s son.
Richard Blair, whose father finished the book in 1949 when he was a young boy, was in New York on Thursday to cheer on the cast amid a huge jump in interest of his father’s nightmarish vison of the future.
“His novel ‘1984’ was his take on what could possibly happen — not necessarily will happen — but, as it turned out, it was really quite prescient,” said Blair. “Crickey, it’s still fresh today as it was then.”
The novel tells the story of a man who works at the Ministry of Truth falsifying war news and promoting adoration of the mythical leader Big Brother. The play version stars Olivia Wilde, Tom Sturridge and Reed Birney.
Orwell’s portrait of a government that manufactures its own facts, demands total obedience and demonizes foreign enemies has enjoyed renewed attention of late, along with other dystopian tales, like Hulu’s version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
One edition of “1984” saw sales jump by 10,000 percent since January, when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway defended incorrect claims as “alternative facts.” It instantly drew comparisons to Orwell’s terms “doublethink” and “newspeak” and to the type of government manipulation the author wrote about nearly 70 years ago.
His son said his father’s lesson is timeless: “Man has been doing this to himself now since he came out of the trees,” said Blair, a retired engineer. “Man is always trying to put one over on his fellow man and get the upper hand.”
Orwell, the pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, seemed to predict the government’s mass surveillance programs and data mining in the age of Facebook and WikiLeaks. But his son has seen his father’s profile jump every few years, surviving the end of the Cold War and thriving under the Trump administration.
“As the decades have gone by, world events tend to collide with ‘1984’ and suddenly everyone wakes up and says, ‘Oh my goodness. This is a bit Orwellian, isn’t it?’ And a lot of them rush and start buying ‘1984’ and realizing that fiction is imitating life or life is imitating fiction,” said Blair.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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