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Ben Eagle gives us a rehearsal report as Paper Zoo Theatre Company prepares to present George Orwell's Animal Farm in Gallery One as part of our Animalism exhibition.

It’s full steam ahead with rehearsals for us at the moment, and we’re having a real ball. The play is full to brim with nastiness, tension, sorrow and humour, and we’re really playing around with all of these elements.

Having staged the play last year, we’re very familiar with the characters and plot, but we’ve recently recruited four new actors who have fitted in very well—despite the fact that Animal Farm isn’t the easiest play to throw yourself into. Acting with animal mannerisms—and within such an important and influential play—is a challenge for any theatre company or individual actor.

I play Napoleon (above)—the ultimate villain. It really is a great part and one that I’m relishing. Having played the part in our 2008 tour, I’m finding new things in the character and really playing up to the challenge of the ‘baddie’. David Peel, who plays Squealer, and myself were described in a review last year as “a couple of real swine”—I hope we succeed again!

Our main challenge is performing in Gallery One, as it isn’t a theatrical space at all. After several considered discussions in the space, we have settled on where we feel it would work best. It will take a little bit of manipulation, but I do think it will work very well with the subject matter.

For the audience to be surrounded by such an amazing exhibition, with such stirring photographs, will hopefully really set the mood.

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