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Researching the Method: Some Personal Strategies

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In considering two of my stage adaptations, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1997) and Emma (1996), I will explain the challenges involved in matching authorial method to theatrical inventiveness. Aspects discussed include the consideration of style, tone and authorial voice, and a comparison between prose and dramatic narrative. Hardy's and Austen's backgrounds, correspondence and literary tastes are referred to, and the impact of this exploration on the respective dramatic methods is illustrated. The production elements are discussed in as much detail as the scripts themselves, including descriptions of the design, musical and movement aspects. Actor challenges, including the depiction of caricature as well as character, are examined. Finally, the context for the adaptations is broached, including my background as a director and artistic director, and how cast-size and resources can often determine the nature of an adaptation as much as the artistic vision.
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Keywords: Austen; Hardy; dramatic method; dramatic narrative; prose narrative; transference challenges

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: East 15 Acting School, University of Essex.

Publication date: 2008-06-03

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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