Date to celebrate - June 8 - Orwell: a celebration

22nd May 2009 at 01:00

What is it all about?

June 8 is the start of a month-long theatre festival honouring the work of George Orwell. This marks the 60th and 70th anniversaries of Orwell's publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Coming Up for Air. Profits of the festival will go to Liberty, the human rights group, and the Orwell Prize, which celebrates political writing.

Assembly ideas

A short play is the perfect way to teach pupils about the work of George Orwell.

Coming Up for Air allows you to discuss the economic problems we are facing in a way that will engage the pupils. Set on the brink of the Second World War, it tells the story of George Bowling, a middle-aged insurance man who is married with kids, saddled with a mortgage and living a henpecked life. He is filled with a sense of dread about the fate awaiting England and flees suburbia for the countryside of his childhood.

Look at how this relates to our economic situation today. Is George Bowling's character as relevant now as it was when the book was published?

Discussion can touch on what the consequences are for people who lose their jobs, have borrowed money and have a family. Your assembly should teach pupils to link our problems with those of history.

Help, I've got no time to prepare

Visit to get more information on George Orwell's life. There is also the complete works of Orwell at

Where do I get more information?

The festival is part of the Arts Council scheme "A Night Less Ordinary", which aims to provide free tickets for those under 26. Box Office: 0870 060 6632;

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