Adaptations for Radio and Stage
A successful adaptation carries all the key attributes of the original work boldly into a new medium. Where that is a shorter format (a 100,000 word novel into a 7,500 word play) this involves smart, empathetic editing. Bringing prose to life means creating scenes that show rather than tell, giving location presence and letting action to speak for itself. It isn't a 'cut and paste' job.
Historical and (auto) biographical adaptations must be treated with care. You can't invent. You can't change time-frames or elide characters. You definitely can't present rumour as fact or change the qualities of a person to make a dramatic story. On the plus side, you are working with authentic human experience in all it's complexity.
When adapting literary works, you're generally freer to interpret the original creatively. You do, however, have to slip into the originating writer's style and disappear. One reviewer couldn't tell my verse from Christopher Marlowe's (but there was free wine with the show).
On some occasions fact and fiction collide. When adapting Janet Frame's 'An Angel at my Table' I had twin responsibilities. The first was to Janet's life, legacy and (understandably nervous) estate. The other was to her complex, poetic prose and intimidatingly brilliant mind.
Lionel Shriver, on the other hand, didn't want to see the script of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' before we recorded. She just let us get on with it, rightly trusting the power of her story.
I took those responsibilities very seriously. Both adaptations were well received. 'Angel' won an award.
To find out more about my adapated plays, click on the photos on the right