George Orwell’s Burmese Days, 2011

Photo Elena Poka

George Orwell’s Burmese Days received its first public screening at the Lexi Cinema, London on Saturday 5 November 2011; the second anniversary of the live semi-staged reading.



In October 2009 Cassius Matthias was approached by Aya Theatre Company and asked to conceive a film version of their unprecedented stage adaptation of George Orwell’s first novel about the lives of the British in Burma.

“I was immediately drawn to the wonderfully dark script and intrigued by the problem of trying to combine successfully the different requirements of the cinematographic and the theatrical in a single crafted production,” Matthias has said.

He took on the challenge and approached the project not only creatively but also as an exercise in technique. His approach required that each of the nine actors be fitted with a radio mic. This would enable Matthias to reconstruct from scratch the live recording with the sound effects and music in post-production. The performance was filmed using a three-camera set up.

Photos Elena Poka



“It is astonishing what Cassius and Zoom Films have achieved with the film of our workshop performance of George Orwell’s Burmese Days. From planning, preparation and execution, through to post-production and final delivery, Cassius has been devoted to creating an exceptionally high-quality piece of work, always loyal to his original concept – a kind of unique crossover of film and live-performance that is faithful to the one-off nature of the piece.

“Cassius’ love of his work, his famous attention to detail, calm attitude and flexibility – even under intense pressure – have made working with him a pleasure. He spent a lot of time with us in rehearsals devising a strategy so that the camera work, which he remotely supervised live on the night, was able to capture the action in more imaginative ways that retell the story to a film audience. Using live radio mics to stitch together a well-crafted soundtrack has meant the resultant intimacy of the soundscape really pulls you into the film. Despite the usual hiccups that are to be expected while shooting 90 minutes in a single, unrepeatable take, thoughtful editing and clever post-production have meant that the result is seamless – without however spoiling the sense that you are watching a live event.

“The result is not only a visually stunning, multi-layered document of the performance itself, but an impressive piece of work entirely of its own merit, which Cassius’ unique work ethic has pushed well beyond the accepted industry standards.” Ryan Kiggell, October 2011.

Photos Elena Poka



Charlotte Allam (Elizabeth Lackersteen, Ma Kin); Simon Anthony-Roden (Ko S’La, Lackersteen, Ko Ba Sein); Sagar Arya (Macgregor, Veraswami); Gordon Case (Butler, U Po Kyin); Ed Cooper Clarke (Verrall); John Milroy (Ellis, Francis); Steven Robertson (John Flory); Tristan Shepherd (Westfield, Sammy); Elisa Terren (Ma Hla May, Mrs Lackersteen).

Photos Elena Poka



A Zoom Films and Aya Theatre Company presentation. Produced by Cassius Matthias. Executive Producer, Erwin Goggel.

Directed by Ryan Kiggell. Written by George Orwell (book), Ryan Kiggell (adaptation). Camera, Matt Bell, Simon Douglas; supervising editor, Cassius Matthias; editor, Tristan Foster; music, Catherine Jayes; set designer, George Moustakas; costume designer, George Moustakas; sound, Russell Edwards; sound design, Helen Atkinson; supervising sound editor, Cassius Matthias; sound editor, Russell Edwards; re-recording sound mixer, Russell Edwards; sound consultant, Fayney.




Aya are an emerging London-based theatre company, devoted to creating challenging new work. It was formed in 2009 by Ryan Kiggell, Elisa Terren, and George Moustakas. They have created two productions in non-theatre spaces Summit Conference by Robert David McDonald within an Edwardian mansion in Fitzrovia and Kaspar by Peter Handke, performed in an unused railway arch close to the Tate Modern in association with The Southwark Playhouse. The company have worked in collaboration with organisations such as Arts Council England, The George Orwell Archive Trust, Amnesty International, UCL Events, The Austrian Cultural Forum and the UK Burma Campaign. Its patron is the experimental filmmaker and Academy Award nominee, Mike Figgis.



Filmed on 5 November 2009
Camera, Sony PMW-EX1 XDCAM Camcorder
Edited on Final Cut Pro
Location, Jeremy Bentham Room, UCL, London