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Modern Adaptations

Between our in class presentations, and an article making the rounds on reddit, and writing my own reflections on my work this semester, I’m thinking about adaptations again. Specifically, I’m wondering what makes for a successful adaptation of non-theatrical and non-traditional source material?

I found it interesting that both Steelbound and Polaroid Stories were dual-adaptations; a mixture of Greek source materials and interviews of real people adapted for the stage. Beyond that, Polaroid Stories Greek source material of Ovid’s Metamorphoses takes the form of an epic poem rather than a play. As Ellen astutely pointed out during class, Ned Dicken’s Harmonia also draws from a body of myths rather than a specific source play.

These sound like odd mish-mashes that shouldn’t necessarily work, but they do; we know from experience reading and seeing these plays and plays like them that they do. Reflecting on the plays I’ve seen since coming to Boston, I notice I’ve seen a lot of adaptations of books; Lord of the Flies, Candide, Great Expectations, Invisible Man, The Jungle Book, and while I haven’t liked all of them (cough, cough, Jungle Book) I’ve found that as a genre I seem to like adaptations. Something about the juxtaposition of material, as in countertextual dramaturgy, seems to work despite itself. But I suppose my next question is; why is it that these intriguing adaptations and translations of ancient works aren’t being produced? Or are they being produced and I’m just not aware? If they are being done, it’s not by the big guys, and I need to plug in better and find it. Because either way, it’s a shame. I’d watch that.


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