On Adaptation: “Adaptations can do more than just be faithful or unfaithful to literary sources. Adaptations can criticize aspects of those sources, debate their themes, and translate them into different cultures and times in ways which alter their meanings and effects, among other relational possibilities. What’s important in comparing a source and an adaptation is not just its fidelity but the ways in which it interprets the source and uses it to create a new work of art.”
From The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation by James Michael Welsh
Assignment: Taking into consideration the quote above from James Michael Welsh, design a production concept/treatment for a film adaptation of any of the plays from this semester: A Doll’s House, Fleabag, Angels in America, Hamlet, Twilight Los Angeles, Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Structure and Format: You are required to use Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama to structure your p***r. Suggested format:
1. Write a brief introduction (1 page).
2. Divide your p***r into six sections, one for each element (6 pages).
Some sections will be longer than others. For example, you may choose to keep the dialogue exactly as written and change none of the language. In that case, you won’t have much to write about dialogue. On the other hand, you may have many ideas to articulate about each of the main characters. Therefore, your “Dialogue” section might be two sentences, while your “Characters” section is three pages. Regardless, each of the Six Elements must be included, for a total of 6-7 written pages overall.
3. Include a page of images/moodboard after each element’s written section. (6 pages).
These will be taken from online sources. For the purpose of this assignment (which will not be published but created only in class) you need not worry about image licensing. You are not required to cite your sources for the images. Were you to publish this assignment in any form, you would of course have to follow guidelines regarding both source and citation. Unacceptable images: anything drawn, sketched, photographed, or otherwise created by you; any inappropriate or offensive images (we could endlessly debate what we mean by “offensive” when it comes to art, but for the sake of the assignment, please just use your common sense: nothing racist, homophobic, misogynist, pornographic, graphically violent, etc. If the thought “I wonder if this image is acceptable?” occurs to you, it’s probably wise not to choose it).
4. Write a brief summation/conclusion (1 page).
If you follow the guidelines above, your project should total 14-15 pages. Aristotle’s Six Elements – the following questions are only suggestions:
Plot: will you change the story? The ending? The narrative structure?
Characters: will you change the characters? Their gender? Their race or ethnicity? Will you eliminate anyone? You may want to include a “dream cast” of real actors for your film. Casting requires in-depth knowledge of the characters in order to understand which actor would be most appropriate, so create your ideal cast.
Ideas: what is/are the main idea(s) of the play you chose? How will you convey that meaning to your audience through your film adaptation?
Dialogue: will you retain the same language as the original play, or do you imagine the characters speaking differently?
Song/Sound: how do you imagine the sound effects in your film? What about music? Is there a style of music or specific songs you think will enhance your film? Will the music/sounds be diegetic or nondiegetic? At what points will sound effects/songs/score be most effectively used?
Spectacle/Visuals: Describe your film’s mise en scène. Mise en scèneis the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play. Translated from French, it means “setting the stage” but, in film analysis, the term mise en scène refers to everything in front of the camera, including the set design, lighting, and actors. Include how you imagine the costumes, lighting, and settings. What special effects might be included? Will you film on location? Where, specifically? What geographical location suits your interpretation? Or, maybe you focus on a specific kind of building. Will you film in an abandoned warehouse? A prison? A school? A particular neighborhood?
Justify all of your choices. There is no sense in setting Hamlet in New York City in the 1980s, unless you draw specific parallels to the setting and plot of the original play. Make sure your concept makes sense.
You need not have any experience with film production. This is a not a detailed plan for the implementation of your ideas. You are the director. You are not assuming the role of cinematographer, editor, location scout, art director, or technician. In other words, you don’t need to include in your p***r how you would execute your ideas, only what those creative ideas are. Say you want to change the dialogue in Hamlet, for example. Describe how (Shakespeare’s verse will be changed to the contemporary vernacular of Boston in 2020) and why (updated dialogue will better allow for a contemporary audience’s identification, and the Boston accent will accurately reflect the adaptation’s location and period); don’t re- write the play. You are describing a concept, you are not writing an adapted screenplay.
Approximately 15 pages:
1 page introduction.
6 pages of typed, double-spaced written description of your adaptation, according to each of Aristotle’s 6 elements of Drama.
6 pages of images, 1 page for each element.
No outside sources are required, just the play, the images, and Aristotle’s six elements.