Sunday, January 11, 2009

Adaptive Theatricality

Playlab NYC’s attempt to get © up this last fall might have been a bust, but working with Kevin and Jennifer on the project has gotten me so fired up to explore derivative works of art, such as mash-ups, fan-fiction and parody that I have started a blog called ADAPTIVE THEATRICALITY.

I started work on it in November when it became clear that our show had fallen apart. The first few entries are cannibalized pieces that Playlab NYC has already posted. But I've stolen as much writing as I can, and I am filled with ideas that I want to tackle in the new year.

In addition to exploring the concepts like mash-ups and fan-fiction, ADAPTIVE THEATRICALITY will discuss issues and ideas related to translating a work from one artistic medium (e.g., novel, painting, poem) into another form, such as a film or a stage play. I want to keep the focus on theater as much as I can, but I know that I will often end up straying into movies as well.

Like anyone who starts a blog, I am putting this together out of love. I love multiple versions of works of art. I am the reason that you can buy a box set with five different versions of Blade Runner. I am the sort of person who is excited by the fact that not only can you read Nabokov's Lolita, but you can see the Kubrick movie, the Adrian Lyne movie, read Nabokov's screenplay, read Edward Albee's play, and take a look at The Enchanter which is a sort of first draft of Nabokov's famous novel.

Tasha Robinson created a column called "Book vs. Film" on the AV Club website. She describes the posts on the AV Club Blog as "a column comparing books to the film adaptations they spawn, often discussing them on a plot-point-by-plot-point basis. This column is meant largely for people who’ve already been through one version, and want to know how the other compares."

I am just the nerd for whom she was writing. However I have become frustrated by the basic compare and contrast approach she takes. I believe that adaptations have so much more to tell us. Adaptations can teach us about the needs a various art forms, a book's needs versus a play's needs. They can teach us about the time period in which the adaptation was created. What does the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers tell us about the 1950's, or what does 1993's Body Snatchers reveal about the presidency of Bush the First?

I also hope to explore adaptations of the same work, for different purposes, e.g., to work with a smaller cast, in a smaller venue (or on the road), or for a different audience (such as adapting a story for children). Such as the various versions of Frank Wildhorn's Scarlet Pimpernel musical, or Tim Rice's Chess.

I hope that you will check in from time to time, and I hope you will find something of interest.

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