Animal Farm is an adaptation of George Orwell’s allegory. In this short version, a power-hungry pig named Napoleon, convinces the other animals to rebel against the humans, take over the farm, and live free. Soon they are walking upright, dressed in full military gear and carrying ridiculous weaponry. When the apple attack on Farmer Jones ends, the power struggle between Napoleon and Snowball (a rival pig) begins and so does a new dictatorship. This play is an excellent introduction to Orwell’s work and is sure to prompt interesting discussions with students!
Andy Pavey is Drama Notebook’s resident playwright. Andy has written over 40 plays for Drama Notebook’s Script Library and each one will have you laughing out loud. Andy hails from the tiny riverside town of LeClaire, Iowa. Andy enjoys writing (of course) reading, backpacking, and riding his bicycle. After studying for two years at UWC-USA, an international residential school in New Mexico, he returned to his home state to attend Grinnell College. He previously spent nine years with Davenport Junior Theatre, the second-oldest children’s theatre in the United States, where he acted in productions, managed the props building, and wrote plays for young actors to perform. Enthralled with creative writing since he was very young, he is thrilled to be working with Drama Notebook to inspire others to think outside the box.
Excerpt from the play:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
NAPOLEON (a large pig)
SQUEALER (small pig, Napoleon’s sidekick)
SNOWBALL (Napoleon’s rival—another pig)
BOXER (kind and gullible/naive horse)
BENJAMIN (old donkey—the only one who can read)
Before the curtain opens, the voice of SNOWBALL can be heard off-stage reciting the following lines, which are taken from the original work:
Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Harken to my joyful tidings
Of the Golden future time.
Soon or late the day is coming.
Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by Beasts alone.
The curtain opens to reveal all of the farm animals on all fours (no one is standing upright). They are chewing grass and making their respective animal noises. Bushes line the back of the set. FARMER JONES runs in, panicked, and seemingly afraid of the harmless-looking animals.
FARMER JONES (nervously, to the audience)
Some strange things have been happening recently ‘round my farm. I know this sounds crazy, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one. (stage-whisper) I think these here animals (he points at the animals) —my animals—are planning to rebel and take over the entirety of human civilization all by themselves!
FARMER JONES glares suspiciously over at the animals, who are still chewing grass and looking around complacently.
FARMER JONES (confused)
Okay, I know it doesn’t look like much, but I promise you—
Is anybody else getting tired of this long-winded speech?
I’m tired of it! I sure am!
NAPOLEON (shouting at FARMER JONES)
Booo! Boooo! Two hooves down! Booooo!
FARMER JONES (spooked)
Aahh! So you really can talk! (to the audience) I told you! I knew it! I knew it!
NAPOLEON (to the DOGS)
Get him, boys!
DOG 1 (looking around)
DOG 2 (pointing at FARMER JONES)
As they say the next line, the DOGS chase FARMER JONES off-stage.
Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!
All of that was inspiring, or whatever, but if we keep running off Farmer Jones, who’s going to bring us our supper?
Nonsense, Benjamin. We don’t need humans for anything. The only good human is an invisible human, right, Squealer?
You’re so right, boss! You’re so right.
Wait one second. Since when is Napoleon the boss? I don’t remember holding an election.
Snowball’s right, everyone! Let’s not worry about titles and roles, eh? Those kinds of things are for humans, and everyone knows how we feel about humans.
I know! I know! The only good human is an invisible—
Oh, hush. It’s not a pop quiz. Everyone heard me the first time.
Returning to the matter at hand… Napoleon, what is all of this about?
Well, it’s quite simple, really. I propose that we rebel against the humans, take over the farm, and live free.
I—I—I don’t know about that, Napoleon. Moo. I don’t want to get my kids caught up in a rebellion.
I understand your concerns. I do! But just think about this: if we succeed in our attempt to overthrow these tyrants, I promise you will be able to keep your milk to raise your babies instead of the humans stealing it. How does that sound?
COW 3 (after a beat)
Sounds like a deal. I’m in.
Moo. Me too.
Why not? It’s not a bad way to spend a weekend.