Stirling Times - - Lifestyle - Tanya MacNaughton

YOU do not need to have read Ge­orge Or­well’s dystopian clas­sic 1984 to un­der­stand the idea of Big Brother in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety.

Pub­lished in 1949, Or­well’s book has al­ways been rel­e­vant but has ex­pe­ri­enced best­seller fame more re­cently, with credit given to the Ed­ward Snow­den case sur­round­ing gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance.

The suc­cess­ful 2013 West End pro­duc­tion is a retelling of 1984, framed by the ap­pendix, with in­spi­ra­tion also taken from film Eter­nal Sun­shine of the Spot­less Mind.

WAAPA grad­u­ate Ursula Mills was liv­ing in LA when she heard the news that adapter-di­rec­tors Robert Icke and Dun­can Macmil­lan were tour­ing the show in Aus­tralia with an Aussie cast and did not let dis­tance get in the way of her goal to play Ju­lia.

“I wanted to con­nect to a char­ac­ter like Ju­lia, so I fought for the role,” Mills said.

“The au­di­tion process was over a few months and be­cause I was over­seas, I had to send self takes back to the direc­tor. He would give me notes and I would send an­other one.

“I was so happy when I got it. It’s so iconic and some­thing that will al­ways be rel­e­vant.”

1984 fol­lows char­ac­ter Win­ston Smith, who lives in a world where an in­va­sive gov­ern­ment is al­ways watch­ing its cit­i­zens.

The pro­duc­tion has be­come known for caus­ing au­di­ence mem­bers to feel faint or walk out be­cause of the con­fronting con­tent.

“But then we also had some­one in a Syd­ney Q and A say they felt re­ally un­der­whelmed be­cause she ex­pected to be faint­ing and vom­it­ing from ev­ery­thing she’d read,” Mills said.

“Then some­one next to her said they had felt quite sick. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple have their lim­its in terms of what they can stom­ach and I think peo­ple fainted who aren’t good around the sight of blood. It is quite stylised and the tech­ni­cal as­pects bridge that gap be­tween stage and au­di­ence.”

The Perth sea­son of 1984 will be the first time Mills has re­turned to the city since grad­u­at­ing from WAAPA in 2006.

“I look back at my time there so fondly and I think maybe I haven’t gone back un­til now be­cause I’ve kept it so pre­cious in my mind,” she said.

“My part­ner is Amer­i­can and I want to show him my drama school; I’m also look­ing for­ward to see­ing the sun set over the ocean.”

WAAPA grad Ursula Mills (third from left) was thrilled to have won the role of Ju­lia in 1984.

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