1984 Live

1984 Live was a landmark event which saw over 50 leading cultural figures read the whole of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four alongside members of the public to create the UK’s first ever live reading, on the site of the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth – Senate House. You can watch the whole thing here.

The reading was offered as an act of subversion in itself, an included immersive staged elements, submerging audiences in the world of Big Brother, IngSoc and The Party. Using projection and actors from UCL, the audience were able to absorb the intrigue and horror of 1984.

The reading was directed by Hannah Price and produced by Libby Brodie Productions.

1984 Live was part of the UCL Festival of Culture 2017 a week-long festival, comprising talks, workshops and exhibitions, set to challenge your thinking and offer new ways of understanding our world. Libraries and Theatres across the country screened the reading and organised satellite events and activities.

The whole reading is available to watch here, beginning at 11.18mins. Scroll down to see the list of readers in order of appearance.



The readers of 1984: Live are listed below, in order of appearance. The Foundation is grateful to everyone who gave up their time to make this unique event happen.

Part 1, Chapter 1

Richard Blair, George Orwell’s adopted son

Archie Blair, George Orwell’s great-grandson

Gavin Blair, George Orwell’s grandson

Bill Hamilton, Literary Agent. Executor of the Orwell Estate

Harry Mount, Journalist and Editor, The Oldie

Part 1, Chapter 2

Nicci Gerrard, Winner of The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2016

Hugh Levinson, Editor, BBC Radio Current Affairs

Part 1, Chapter 3

Lord Ken Macdonald QC, Chair of The Orwell Foundation and Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords

Michela Wrong, Journalist, Author and former Foreign Correspondent

Part 1, Chapter 5

Quentin Kopp, Son of Georges Kopp, Orwell’s commander in the POUM

Helen Pearson, Author of The Life Project (2016), longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017

Arifa Akbar. Journalist and Literary Critic, trustee of The Orwell Foundation

Catherine O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s niece

Peter Ross, Award-Winning Journalist, Orwell Fellow

Kathy Harvey, Deputy Director, The Orwell Foundation

Liam Wantenaar, Public ballot

Part 1, Chapter 6

Caroline Criado Perez, Writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner

Part 1, Chapter 7

Rebecca O’Brien, Producer, most recently “I, Daniel Blake”

Isabel Ogilvie-Smith, Public ballot

Fatima Al Rayes, Public ballot

Part 1, Chapter 8

Paul Lay, Editor, History Today

Peter Hitchens, Journalist, Columnist at the Mail on Sunday, Orwell Fellow

Gary Younge, Writer and Journalist, Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Books 2017

Hector Parsons, Public ballot

Lucie Benaiteau, Public ballot

Part 2, Chapter 1

Anna Wharton, Journalist and Writer, Longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017

Fiammetta Rocco, Editor of Books and Arts, The Economist

Professor Anthony Julius, Solicitor and academic best known for actions on behalf of Princess Diana, Deborah Lipstadt and Heather Mills

Part 2, Chapter 2

Frances Barber, Award winning actor. Credits include: “Silk”, “Dr Who” & “Antony & Cleopatra”

Part 2, Chapter 3

Professor Simon Schama, Historian, University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University

Dr Martin Moore, Director, Centre for the Study of Media, Culture and Power, King’s College London

Hibo Wardere, Somalian-born campaigner against female genital mutilation, Longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017

Part 2, Chapter 4

Gideon Rachman, Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist, Financial Times, Orwell Fellow

Billy Bragg, Singer-Songwriter and activist

Part 2, Chapter 5

D.J. Taylor, Critic, Novelist and Biographer. Author of Orwell (2003) award-winning biography of George Orwell

Rick Edwards, Television Presenter and author of None of the Above (2015), Patron of The Orwell Youth Prize

Part 2, Chapter 6

Gillian Furlong, Head of Special Collections and Archivist in UCL Library Services

Part 2, Chapter 7

Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Crime fiction writer, Biographer and Historian, Shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Mark Adair, Head of Corporate and Community Affairs, BBC Northern Ireland

Part 2, Chapter 8

John Seaward, Actor. Recent credits include “The Inbetweeners Movie” and “The Philanthropist”

Ros Wynne Jones, Journalist, Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2017

Guy Pewsey, Journalist, London Evening Standard

Part 2, Chapter 9

Baroness Patience Wheatcroft, Journalist and Conservative Member of the House of Lords

David Olusoga, British-Nigerian Writer, Broadcaster and Historian. Author of Black and British, Longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017

Professor Maya Jasanoff, Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard Univeristy

Professor John Bew, Professor in History and Foreign Policy at King’s College London, Winner of The Orwell Prize for Books 2017 (‘Citizen Clem’)

Taniya Welmillage, Public ballot

Ece Temelkuran, Turkish journalist and author

Hugh Montgomery, Head of Culture, The Daily Telegraph

Lord Melvyn Bragg, Broadcaster, author and member of the House of Lords, best known for the BBC Radio 4 Programme In Our Time

Ken Loach, Award-Winning Television and Film Director, most recently I, Daniel Blake

Part 2, Chapter 10

Nick Cohen, Journalist, Orwell Fellow

Matthew Norman, Writer, Political Commentator and Journalist. Media diarist for The Independent

Part 3, Chapter 1

Jack Monroe, Writer, journalist and activist

Professor Stella Bruzzi, Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCL

Mark Ravenhill, Playwright whose work has been produced by the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court Theatre

Part 3, Chapter 2

Alan Johnson, Former MP for Hull West and Hessle, former Home Secretary and winner of The Orwell Prize for Books 2014

Dame Harriet Walter, Actor. Recent films include “The Sense of an Ending”. Author of Brutus and Other Heroines

Guy Paul, Actor. Recent credits include: “Boa”, “Death of a Salesman” and on film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Salena Godden, Poet, performer and author

Jennifer Lim, Actor and filmmaker. Founding member of British East Asian Artists

Daniel York Loh, Actor and writer

Part 3, Chapter 4

Professor Jean Seaton, Director, The Orwell Foundation

Phyllida Lloyd, Director best known for work in theatre and as the director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady

Part 3, Chapter 5

Neal Ascherson, Scottish journalist and writer, Orwell Fellow

Samantha Michelle, Actress, filmmaker and DJ 

Bonnie Greer, American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster

Creatives and Crew

Director: Hannah Price

Hannah Price is Co-Artistic Director and Founder of Theatre Uncut, the winner of two Fringe First awards, a Heralds Angel award and the Spirit of the Fringe Award. She was Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse and was recently Associate Director to John Malkovich on Good Canary.

Producer: Libby Brodie

Libby Brodie Productions has most recently produced the European premiere of Waiting For Waiting For Godot (St James Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (UK Tour) and the world premiere of Run The Beast Down (Marlowe Theatre, Finborough Theatre) and currently, The Philanthropist (Trafalgar Studios).

Lighting Designer: Robbie Butler

Robbie has twice been nominated for an off west end award for best lighting design and in 2015 was the winner of the ETC award from the association of lighting designers. More information can be found at www.robbiebutlerdesigns.com

Sound Designer: Philip Matejtschuk

Philip Matejtschuk is a twice-Offie nominated London-based sound designer and composer, whose most recent work includes Brimstone & Treacle (Hope Theatre), Jekyll & Hyde (Pleasance London), Tom Molineaux (Jack Studio Theatre), and Adding Machine (Finborough Theatre). Philip is also Head of Sound at Italia Conti.

Stage Manager and Board Op: Lara Goncalves
Stage Managers: Ruth Parry, Chris Firth, Scott Clarke
Crew: Andrew MacDonald, Paolo Freccero, Alex Zaharia
Graphic Design: Lucy Le Lievre
Julias: Catrin Harris and Ruth Gibson
Winstons: Dean Ashton and Lachlan McCall

Video Production Team

Camera: Patrick Robinson, Phil Mason, Alejandro Lopez.
Live stream director: Matt Aucott.
Web support: Maurice Brown.

Live Screenings and Satellite Events

Libraries and theatres all over the country are getting involved- there might be a satellite event near you:

  • Poole Central Library will be showing the live-streaming at Poole Central Library, Dolphin Centre, BH15 1QE from 9am. People are welcome to drop in through the day, no bookings or tickets required.
  • Lambeth Libraries are holding George Orwell Day as part of the Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival. During the day Lambeth Libraries will be hosting ‘Selfie stations’ where you can borrow copies of Orwell novels as well as tweeting your own alt-fact, fake news, or as Orwell would have put it, ‘newspeak’ #1984Live
  • Halton Libraries will be screening the live-stream of the reading on 6th June.
  • Kidderminster Library will screen the live-stream of the reading during opening hours on 6th June.
  • Huddersfield Library (HD1 2SU) will be  screening the live-stream of the reading on 6th June.
  • Redbridge Libraries Gants Hill will be screening the live-stream of the reading on 6th June.
  • Leeds Central Library will be screening the live-stream of the reading on 6th June from 9am until 5pm and on Wednesday 7th June will host a 1984 Live Film Screening, at 6pm (doors 5.15pm) in Room 700, Leeds Central Library.
    • In this time of alternative facts and political uncertainty, there is no better time to revisit this chillingly relevant story of a nightmarish totalitarian society. As part of our Orwell series, we’re screening the classic film adaptation of 1984, starring John Hurt as the downtrodden Winston Smith and Richard Burton as the cynical O’Brien.Have a Victory Gin from our licensed bar and test your mettle against our ‘Room 101’ experience, but remember Big Brother is watching!Suitable for ages 15+Tickets: £5 – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/ELGLGE
  • York Explore Library and Archive are hosting two special events to celebrate Nineteen Eighty-Four. Tickets are £4 or £3 with a York Card can be made at any library in York, by telephone on 01604 552 828 or at www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/loving-big- brother/ and www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/little-nephews
    • Loving Big Brother Thursday 1 June at 6.15pmProfessor John Bowen from the University of York, will argue that Nineteen Eighty-Four is as much a gothic as a political novel speaking from the experience of editing the novel for Oxford World’s Classics
    • Little Nephews Monday 19 June at 6.15pm Dr Adam Stock from York St John University will trace the ways in which works of literature, film, TV and graphic novels from the 1950s to the present have engaged with Orwell’s dystopian novel.


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