Tim Robbins on current echoes of Orwell’s ‘1984’

«Does Tim Robbins ever talk about art?» asked a bewildered reporter. «We’ve been here for almost an hour and all we’ve heard about is politics,» she complained. «We’re talking to him as if he were a candidate for the presidency, and not an actor and director.» Indeed, Robbins – meeting the press yesterday at the Athens Hilton to talk about the Actors’ Game Ensemble production of George Orwell’s «1984» that he produced and directed – had delivered sundry broadsides against US foreign policy that were worthy of a presidential contender. He took the comment in good part. «Thank you for reminding us that there are other things that are important,» he said, «but wherever I go, these questions arise. And it’s connected with the production. I haven’t come with some inconsequential play about how funny it all is.» Orwell’s work is as timely as ever, «unfortunately,» Robbins believes, noting contemporary echoes of the grim world of Orwell’s classic, where continuous warfare is used to control the economy and fear to control rebellious elements in society. Robbins drew a parallel between the «thought crimes» of «1984» and the practice of the rendition of innocent people «for fear of what they might do.» He likened the tactic of denouncing as «radicals, traitors and Saddam-lovers» those who urged caution and patience in the search for weapons of mass destruction to Orwellian doublethink and doublespeak. It wasn’t just state policy Robbins had in his sights, but a complaisant media and supine opposition. «The media,» he said, «is willfully ignoring the high crimes and misdemeanors of the president of the US.» He compared saturation press cover and the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual peccadillo with the free ride his successor is getting from press and political opponents alike. «There was a dry-cleaning bill and some trouble in that marriage,» he said of Clinton’s escapade, noting that when Bush told lies, hundreds of thousands of people died, a region was destabilized and al-Qaida gained more recruits than Bin Laden ever dreamed of. Oh yes, the play. It will be made into a film, with shooting scheduled to start in the fall. Ilissia Denissi Theater till May 6. In English with Greek surtitles. Tickets are available online at, or reservations can be made on tel 210.723.4567, 210.721.6317 and 210.721.0045.