The YouthPLAYS Blog

Adaptation
June 29, 2010

It's an exciting challenge to adapt a novel or other literary work for the stage. At the Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore, I spoke on "Page to Stage: The Art of Adaptation." Here are 10 questions to ask yourself as you move forward:

1. Is the material in the public domain, or do I have the permission of the rights holder? (If not, get permission first!)
2. Should my adaptation be a play or a musical?
3. What style of storytelling should I use? For example, the version of Great Expectations available at YouthPLAYS makes use of four actors (though this number is expandable) to tell the story, with actors both narrating and playing the action.
4. How faithful should my adaptation be to the original material?
5. What is the dramatic action of the play?
6. What scenes/moments do I need to tell the story, and which ones should I leave out?
7. Which characters will I include? Will some be left out, or combinations of multiple characters?
8. Where will my dialogue come from? From dialogue in the book, from narration, or will I invent it?
9. What settings will I put on stage?
10. How much of the information (i.e. exposition) from the original material do we really need to know?

Happy adapting!--Jonathan Dorf

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