creative writting: ADAPTATIONS FOR A PLAY

creative writting: ADAPTATIONS FOR A PLAY
1.0 Main Content
1.1 Adaptations
1.2 Adapting from play
1.3 Adapting from a novel/short story

So far in this course and in Creative Writing I, we have emphasized the creation of a story based on life experiences, an individual, the environment, myth, legend and history. You are expected to select an aspect or central idea and build your story around it. In this unit, we are going to discuss how to create a story based on an original work or story. We call it adaptation. In an adapted play, the incidents, the theme and the subject matter may be the same as in the original work or story, but you are not obliged to follow the same structure. You may decide to re-structure the play to suit your purpose and your environment. This means that you are re-writing the original story.
By the end of this unit, you should be able to:
• List some adapted play
• Compare one of them with the original story
• Adapt and write a playlet based on a short story
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives three explanations for the word adapt.
- to change something in order to make it suitable for a new use or situation
- to adapt yourself: to change your behavior in order to deal more successfully with a new situation
- to change a book or a play so that it can be made into a play, film/movie, television …etc
The constant phrase in these definitions is “to change”. Adaptation in drama means a change from an original work or a story to a play. Many classical children’s stories like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Adventures of Robin Hood and many others have been adapted into play for children presented mainly in form of cartoons. Gulliver’s Travels is another popular work that has been adapted for the screen. In adaptation, you may decide to retain the original title or change the title. Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes retains its original title in the adapted version for movie. Mostly, in films/movies, the original titles are retained but in stage plays, the titles are changed most of the times.
Before you set out to adapt a work, there must be a motivation. It could be that you like the story and feel that you want to recreate it in different setting or that you want to re-represent it from another perspective.
3.2. Adapting a play
It is common for dramatists through the ages to use well-known materials for the subjects of their plays. A popular novel or poem could be turned into a play. The important factor is not “…what the writer ostensibly takes from his predecessors or contemporaries, but the particular use he makes of his borrowing” (Ludowyk 258). In adaptation, you are not copying but using your creative ability to mould the material the way you wish. The audience must be able to note important departures from the original in your reworking of it.
In adapting a play from a play you derive the outline of your plot and the characters from the original play. You pay attention to salient events in the original play and within its limits, arrange your material to suit your own purpose.
Many of Shakespearean plays are adaptations of earlier plays. For instance, his Romeo and Juliet was adapted from The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet which was written first in Italian by Bandell and in English by Arthur Brooke. For instance, the plot of his Twelfth Night is popular and has featured in “various Italian, Spanish and French plays (that) developed the subject, derived ultimately from Plautus”, (Ludowyk 260). The plays present the story of twins separated by shipwreck; the female disguises herself as a boy, and takes up employment with a Lord with whom she falls in love. In his Novelle, Bandell tells a story which he took from an Italian comedy Gl’Ingannatic (The Deceived). This was translated by Belleforest in his Histories Tragiques, and retold by Barnabie Rich in his Farewell to Military Profession. Shakespeare adds the subplot of the practical joke played on Malvolio and the characters involved in it. Apart from this, the subject is the same except for few departures from the original text.
In Hope Eghagha’s adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, presents the play from a different perspective. Soyinka presents the
death of the King’s Horseman, Eleshi Oba who was to die for his son but did not die and his son, Olude dies, as necessary for the well-being of the society. In his own play Death, not a Redeemer, Eghagha revises the tragic sequence of Soyinka’s play into what he refers to as “…something positive, progressive and more affirmative of the dynamics of the life-force in humans” (Preface ii). He does not believe in a decision where a young man commits suicide in place of his father when “youth itself re-affirms the beauty of life”. He decided that it would be “more dynamic to situate progress in the life-force as opposed to Death (Preface iii).
You have seen two forms of adaptations. Many other Nigerian playwrights presents adaptations of other plays. The most popular among them is Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are not to Blame which is an adaptation Sophocle’s Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King.
Self Assessment Exercise Compare
Ola Rotimi’s The God’s are not to Blame with Sophocles King Oedipus and note points of departure by Ola Rotimi from the original play.
3.3. Adapting from a Novel
You can also, as stated in 3.1 above, adapt a play from a novel. In adaptations from a play, you could re-present the entire action of the original play with minimal modifications. It is difficult to do same in an adaptation from the novel because of the lesser time and space available to the playwright, except for the television, film or movie which do not share the limitations of the stage play. The playwright limits him/herself to an aspect of the novel because it is difficult to compress the incidents that span for several years, presented in about three hundred pages of a novel to an action of about one hour on stage in about sixty pages of a play.
In Emeka Nwabueze’s When The Arrow Rebounds, an adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God, he highlights the conflict between the Christian religion and the traditional religion and how Ezeulu falls from grace to grass. The subject matter is the same.
The play was premiered as part of the “Eagle on Iroko”; a symposium for Chinua Achebe’s 60th birthday at the University of Nigeria Nsukka 12 – 18th February 1990. It presents Ezeulu, just like Chinua Achebe did, as an arrow in the hands of his god. In fighting for Ulu and seeking revenge against his people, little did he know that the arrow could re-bound and turn the predator into the prey and the pursurer to the pursued (Eni Jones Umukoro, the Blurb).
Remember that in the adaptation you present the story in dialogue from the beginning to the end. You may choose some remarkable dialogue from the original text.
Self Assessment Exercise Read Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God and Emeka Nwabueze’s When the Arrow Rebounds. List the incidents in the former that are reflected in the latter and the ones created by the playwright.

creative writting: ADAPTATIONS FOR A PLAY creative writting: ADAPTATIONS FOR A PLAY Reviewed by hitsloaded on October 05, 2018 Rating: 5

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