Adaptation

Adaptation, Participation, Risk-taking: Creative Interventions In Contemporary Performance

Translator and theatre scholar Dr. Jozefina Komporaly reflects on a day of exchange between the worlds of research, practice, and immersive theatre, with adaptation and interactivity at its core. This article aims to highlight converges and confluences between professional performance practice, academia, and the general public, drawing on an event that situated the day-to-day work of theatre practitioners, aspects of performance criticism, and the notion of work in progress side by side. The venue, however, was not the familiar territory of a break-out space or rehearsal room regularly used by theatre professionals, but the Theatre @ Wimbledon College of Arts, University of...

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Let Sleeping Molière Lie

It is impossible to put it in writing, but to record the horror of the thing here is a black cross mark. The Cabal of Hypocrites, Mikhail Bulgakov On January 13, or about that time (cf. The Life of Monsieur de Molière by Mikhail Bulgakov), a certain Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was born. On September 13, on the stage of the Lenkom theatre, a certain production, titled Dreams of M. de Molière, was brought into the world. It was a still-birth. It is a bitter task to write an obituary for a theatre production, especially...

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The Importance Of “Hamlet”

The Bard’s tale on the machinations of Denmark’s royal family remains his most influential plays translated into Marathi says Vikram Phukan. In his authoritative tome, The Indian Theatre (1970), R.K. Yajnik states that, “No Shakespearean play, most faithfully rendered, has ever evoked such unbounded enthusiasm and admiration in India as the Marathi Hamlet.” Several writers have translated the tragedy, the longest and perhaps the most influential of Shakespeare’s plays, into Marathi. Several translations Indianised the characters while retaining the title of the play (for instance, Nana Yog’s abridged adaptation of 1959). Gopal Ganesh Agarkar’s Vikaravilasita, which opened in 1883, featured the legendary...

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Unpacking The Role Of Women In Ibsen’s “The Enemy Of The People”

Goodman’s Resident Dramaturg on how her work gives texture and specificity to a production. Consider the riddle of Neena Arndt’s work at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. She conducts research that informs designs but doesn’t design sets or costumes or soundscapes. She often appears on Goodman stages but is not an actor. Arndt is a dramaturg who researches playwrights, characters and their lives, relevant social and political events, and other themes for use by actors, designers, directors, and sometimes press offices. She might even have a hand in refining a play adaptation. She is part of the community that...

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Electra Takes Revenge into Her Own Hands

In Han Tae-sook’s Electra (LG Arts Center, April 26–May 5, 2018), the mourning daughter doesn’t sit around waiting for her brother to take revenge. Wearing short hair, combat boots, and a pistol at her hip, this Electra (Jang Young-nam) leads a rebel army against the usurper Aigistheus (Park Wan-gyu). She holds her mother Clytemnestra (Seo Yi-sook) prisoner in an underground bunker while her soldiers prepare extreme measures—a biochemical bomb strapped to a suicide vest—to win the war at any cost. Like Sophocles’ drama, however, revenge and justice run along parallel tracks, never to converge. Han’s latest project resembles her...

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Global Shakespeare

Voodoo Macbeth? Heir apparent of the Denmark Corporation in Manhattan? A pair of star-crossed lovers from feuding families selling chicken rice in Singapore? In the past century, stage, film, and television adaptations of Shakespeare have emerged in the UK, US, Canada, and the performance cultures of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Asia/Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and far-flung corners of the globe. Shakespeare’s plays often feature locations outside England, Scotland, and Wales, and characters from various parts of the world. In fact, the history of global performance dates back to Shakespeare’s lifetime. Since the sixteenth...

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“La Cerisaie”: Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard” With New Secrets

La Cérisaie (The Cherry Tree/The Cherry Orchard) presented by the Belgian company TG STAN (i.e. Stop Thinking About Names). The Flemish TG Stan collective from Antwerp chose to perform their version of Chekhov’s last play (1903-04), as a comedy where the tragedy was reduced to moments of pure pathos as the actors free themselves from the constraints of Chekhov’s theatrical conventions. The enclosed space of a dying society has flung open the windows and let fresh air flood into the theatre to produce a counter-discourse that brought this performance beyond past readings of the play. This reading was at time intriguing but at...

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Thou Art Translated! How Shakespeare Went Viral

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when Peter Quince sees Bottom turned into an ass-headed figure, he cries in horror: “Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee. Thou art translated!” Other characters in the play use the verb in similar ways to refer to a broad range of altered states. Helena hopes to be “translated” into Hermia, her childhood friend and rival, while a love potion transforms characters that come in contact with it. Appropriately enough, translation has come to define Shakespeare’s legacy. Since the 16th century, his plays and sonnets have been translated and performed all over the world in an...

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Myth, Motherhood, And Desperation in Modern Adaptation of Lorca’s “Yerma”

Last Monday, about forty minutes into the final preview of Yerma at the Park Avenue Armory—Simon Stone’s breathtakingly intense Lorca adaptation from London’s Young Vic—an unhappy thud came out of the dark during a tricky scene change. The house lights rose, the show was paused for a half hour for “technical problems,” and then abruptly canceled. I’d been rapt when the action stopped, not least because the scene just played was a pretty surprising addendum to a tale famously focused on a woman desperate to get pregnant. The scene showed Her (the new name of Yerma, which means barren in Spanish) and her...

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“The Black Monk”: Dramatism And A Large Dose Of Slapstick

Of all the great Russian writers of the second half of the nineteenth century, none perfected the art of dualism quite like Anton Chekhov. The tragic and the comic, the internal and the external, the serious and the trivial, the lived and the imagined–in his work all coexist and converge; the borders between them shift, erode, lose all meaning. From a forest of easily caricatured sureties–Turgenev’s naïve liberalism, Tolstoy’s confident religiosity, Dostoevsky’s impassioned conservatism–Chekhov emerges as a torchbearer of uncertainty, moral ambiguity, and nuance. Like Schrödinger’s famous cat, at once both alive and dead, Chekhov’s characters and themes defy categorization....

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“Goodbye, Mr. Yi Sang”: Seoul Performing Arts Company’s New Experiment

Theatre adaptations of novels are on the rise this season. Of course, this is nothing new. Fiction, both classic and modern, have always made up a good chunk of the performing arts repertoire. It would be more precise to say that some of the most successful and discussed productions this season are adaptations of novels. Why are novel adaptations generating such buzz right now? One reason might be because theatre artists have changed their approach to adapting fiction. Previously, adapters were too concerned with preserving the so-called “fragrance,” “beauty,” or “perfection” of the original novel’s language and structure. In...

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“Lessons Learnt” By A Professional Translator–Adapting The Same Play Three Times Over Three Years

I have just finished translating Mikhail Durnenkov’s The War Hasn’t Yet Started for the third time in as many years. I’m in an unusual situation–one translator creating three different versions of the same play. As far as I know, that doesn’t normally happen. I have tried to take advantage of each opportunity to re-translate the play, adapting it significantly to the specific target audience. In 2015, I translated The War for the first time, for my Ph.D. at Queen Mary University of London. Subsequently, this translation was presented as a rehearsed reading at the Frontline Club in London. I knew that the Frontline Club attracts a...

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Dairakudakan’s “Unearthly” Butoh Meets A Tortured Russian tale

Following a January press conference in which the New National Theatre, Tokyo, announced that Dairakudakan, one of the world’s leading butoh companies, would be staging two performances of Tsumi To Batsu (Crime And Punishment) in March, troupe founder Akaji Maro delivered a triumphant statement. Having this unexpected yet fantastic opportunity (to work with the NNTT) feels revolutionary like we’ve finally conquered this national (state-run) citadel after so many years, – the 75-year-old artist said. – So I am very excited to seize our chance to create the best possible performance piece for the NNTT. Maro and his cast of white-painted,...

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American Actors Give New Voice To French Theater

As a young French director visiting New York with his theater troupe, Paul Desveaux hardly expected to fall in love with an American painter’s work one afternoon on a trip to a museum. Even more remote was the possibility that in 20 years, he would return to New York to direct his own production about that same artist. Yet further from his mind was the idea that this original French theater piece would be presented in English, and brought to life in part thanks to the French Embassy. But this is precisely what transpired. The year is 1998, and...

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“Jubilee” at The Lyric Hammersmith: Adapting Punk Classic

The late Derek Jarman’s 1978 film Jubilee is a punk classic. I think he was in his Fellini phase, his vision peopled by freaks, dwarfs, and cracked actors. And punks of every description. Plus a few New Romantics. And a touch of Andy Warhol (as in film-maker). The film is theatrical, situationist, punky, camp, awkward, word-choked, and often as slow as a drop of sweat dribbling down your back on a hot day—basically a mess, but great if you see it as a late nighter. And stoned. If not, a touch embarrassing. Cringe-making. You just need to pick out the good bits like...

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“Memorial” Is A Shattering Excavation Of The Scars Of War Through Poetry, Dance, And Mind Blowing Score

Arthur Danto, in his Analytic Philosophy of History, calls the common noun “scar” a “past-referring term.” In this way, language acknowledges the passing of time, representing verbally what happens to us physically. The mystery of appearance and disappearance in the world–the cycle of life and death–is caught in the warp and weft of how we speak, the soul made manifest by the word. Memorial is a large-scale performance piece drenched in a sense of time passed. Based on Alice Oswald’s poetic exploration of the Iliad (the precise, and again temporally charged, descriptor is “excavation”), it brings together a transcendent...

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Discussion On The Greatest Theatrical Scandal Of 2017: “Klątwa” At The Powszechny Theatre In Warsaw

Kasia Lech (KL): How could we introduce Klątwa [The Curse] and its context to someone for whom the play, Polish theatre, and the Polish socio-political context are rather unknown? Agata Łuksza (AŁ): Undoubtedly Klątwa, directed by Olivier Frljić, caused in Poland the greatest theatrical scandal of 2017. It premiered at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, a city-subsidized institution led by Paweł Łysak and Paweł Sztarbowski who coined their theatre “theatre which interferes.” So far, all of Frljić’s attempts to cooperate with Polish theatres have resulted in nationwide discussions about the borders of theatre art. Klątwa really struck a chord by...

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Contemporary “Electra” by DumbWise at The Bunker Theatre

Electra is the protagonist in two Ancient Greek tragedies, one by Sophocles and the other by Euripides. The story is typically bloody: as the daughter of King Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra, she wants to revenge the murder of her father by her mother. In her sights are both Clytemnestra and her mother’s new lover, Aegisthus. But unable to do the deed herself, Electra awaits the return of her long-lost brother Orestes, who everyone else says is dead. He isn’t, of course, and when he returns there is much spillage of blood. It is, after all, a revenge tragedy....

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I Wanted To Remove The Language Of Gender: Hindi Adaptation of Lorca’s “Yerma”

Mahesh Dattani explores the symbolism, futurism and surreal influences of Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca by directing a Hindi adaption of Yerma. The Drama School Mumbai’s annual production, which showcases their current batch of 14 students, is a take on Federico García Lorca’s Yerma, rechristened Maati in this Hindi adaptation by Neha Sharma, directed by noted playwright Mahesh Dattani. In conversation with The Hindu, Dattani talks about the queer themes that he has explored in the play. Why did you select Yerma? Jehan (Maneckshaw) had suggested we do a classic this time. He was keen to do Karnad’s Taledanda, but I was really struck by Yerma. I had caught...

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“Y Tad” – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (A Welsh Translation of Florian Zeller’s “The Father”)

Terry Eagleton reminds us that in order for tragedy to occur, then the protagonist must be in search of their own complete individual identity of freedom [1]. That freedom, as I understand it, comes in multiple forms. Usually, if we begin in the Aristotelian sense, the harmatia (or, the tragic “flaw”) is that the character cannot be in control of the desired fate that (in ancient terms) the gods have set for them. In the case of Y Tad, that fate is out of the hands of Arwyn, the central protagonist of this story. As previously mentioned in my...

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