Approaches to the creative adaptation style of theatre – Rhinegold Publishing

Approaches to the creative adaptation style of theatre


The aim of this scheme of work is to provide greater understanding of the style of creative adaptation, for use primarily in the devising unit DRA 4 for the AQA A2 Drama and Theatre Studies exam. In this unit, students are expected to create original work that reflects their understanding of a particular theatrical style, as opposed to the single practitioner focus of DRA 2.

Creative adaptation is an excellent choice for this component as it allows students to create imaginative, original work, while the main aspects of the plot and characterisation are already established for them. Creative adaptation work is usually fairly easy to access live (see Kneehigh Theatre’s fairy tale adaptations), and there are many useful examples to be readily found on DVD or play format, from Berkoff’s creative adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial through to Peter Hall’s Animal Farm. Lorca’s Blood Wedding was adapted from a real life incident. As students are required to refer to experiences of performance work they have seen and been inspired by in their supporting notes document, the current production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a clear example of a creative adaptation from a novel. The Woman in Black tours most years and is a constant presence in the West End, a creative adaptation of a novel that serves as a clear reminder of how little is needed in terms of cast and set in order to achieve effective theatre.

The AQA specification refers to creative adaptation as being based on ‘well known stories or poems …not plays’. So, a creative adaptation is not just an edited version of an already existing play with a few cuts and a number of original ideas thrown in, it is a new theatrical venture inspired by a non-theatrical source. It is not taken from a film screenplay, which is in a sense an already performable scripts. One of the Chief Examiner reports from AQA does discuss a site specific performance inspired by Psycho, but by the original Robert Bloch novel, rather than the film.

This scheme of work will look in detail at how to develop a creative adaptation  from scratch, looking at how to use the right kind of source material, how to cope with the demands of storytelling theatre and the stylistic devices that can help students to get large sections of narrative across in a way that is theatrical imaginative and exciting.

Number of lessons: 8

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