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Local News -

November 15, 2007

Orwell book set for stage, 250 students

A special presentation of the latest Hartwick College theater arts production will ensure area high school teachers can have their students see a performance based on a classic.

Today's 10:15 a.m. presentation of "Animal Farm," based on the 1945 novel by George Orwell, will be performed for about 250 high school students at Slade Theatre in Yager Hall on the Hartwick campus.

Schools including Sidney and Schenevus will be sending students, said Marc Shaw, play director and assistant professor of theater arts. General admission performances will take place today and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 and $5 for students with ID.

The theatrical version was written by Peter Hall and the music has been updated to make the show more contemporary, Shaw said.

Sidney High School English teacher Norm Farwell said the school will be sending students in grades 10 and 11 to see the story, which is based on historical events including the Russian Revolution and the rise of Joseph Stalin and that uses farm animals to deliver its message.

The trip is important, Farwell said, because "you try to bring books alive for kids in anyway you can."

For some, "seeing a story live on a stage adds a whole other dimension," he said.

He said he expects the performance to provoke discussions in English and history classes, and it should be an inspiration to those involved with high school theater productions.

The college performance will allow students to see professional-quality theater, said Schenevus High School English teacher Margaret Green, who will be bringing two classes.

Most students wouldn't have access to this if the local colleges didn't encourage student attendance, she said. She has been discussing the book with her 10th-grade English class, which will soon be reading it, she said. The material will also stimulate discussion in her 12th-grade class, she added.

Shaw said he was pleased area high schools have shown an interest in attending.

"I am always trying to advocate for theater," he said. "It's my life's work."

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