New Voices Telling Old Stories: A Study in Stage Adaptation

Cassie Archer, Dr. Jocelyn L. Buckner, Department of Theatre, Chapman University, 1 University Dr, Orange, CA 92866

What is adaptation? How is it studied? Why use the stage as a canvas for adaptations for literature, history, mythology, film, and more? Why are people drawn to adaptations? How does a retelling of a story affect that story? This paper will attempt to answer these questions first by exploring how adaption studies apply to the theatre arts. This exploration into adaptation will yield discoveries into how storytelling works in theatre and to understand the power of retelling. As adaptation studies has grown as a field, it offers a fresh perspective on theatre that can study the connections it has to other media.  Another goal of this paper is to analyze stage adaptations written by women and to answer why and how they are rewriting these stories. This analysis will include my experience as dramaturg on Chapman University’s production of Ellen McLaughlin’s Lysistrata, as well as studies on Alice Walker’s The Color Purple novel-to-movie-to-musical adaptation and Lynn Nottage’s Las Meninas. This focus on women playwrights, writers, and women’s stories is just one example of how adaptation is at work with creating diversity in theatre. This paper hopes to set up a framework in understanding why adaptation is important in appreciating the value of theatre history as it informs the creation of new stories that seek to communicate the truths of many perspectives. A wider goal of this paper is to contribute to the field of theatre studies by calling into question the value placed on originality, relevancy, history, and perspective. Ultimately, I will argue that it is essential that theatre artists continue to make adaptations from old stories because through this adaptation process, the knowledge of history can be shared and appreciated, at the same time as opening up the narrative to include voices that have traditionally not been included.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Cassie Archer

Institution: Chapman University

Type: Poster

Subject: Theatre/Drama

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7163