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Adapting for theatre (though I have no experience) (2 Viewers)

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Heid

Senior Member
I am reading a book that I feel would be ideal for a stage adaptation. However, even though I am a freelance writer, I have no experience writing for theatre productions. It's actually been a while since I even saw a play.

Apart from absorbing myself in theatre culture, what advice can anyone offer to someone who's looking to try his hand at other writing endeavours?

Cheers.
 

A_Jones

Senior Member
I can only speak for myself. I am not sure there is any other advice to give. Read stage plays. Try to find the genre and read as many of them as you can. Watch them. Become a part of them somehow. There is usually a local play actors guild. I have about 5 near me.

Yes just delve into the culture and have fun!

I would like to say I like the idea of you doing this. I minored in theatre in collage and I have been on stage all my life. I love it. I can't wait until I am able to go back to it.
 

Heid

Senior Member
Thank you for the reply. Fortunately we have a theatre in my home town which does all manner of entertainment, from comedy to music to plays. Engrossing myself in stage productions and written scripts seems like the best option while I work on my own contribution.
 

Yfig

Senior Member
May be you could inspire from the tool : Celtx.com (free) - guide lines for movies, theater, novel ...
Of course you need first to read a lot and to see many theater pieces ...
Theater is a mecanic in which you need to think about the faisability of each scene.
When I write a scene too complexe, I just describe it as being with no decor.
And this is a rule you need also to respect : just give light instructions ... the director does'nt like you substitute to him. :)
 

vangoghsear

WF Veteran
WF Veterans
I would say try your hand at writing a ten minute (ten page) single act play.

A few tips:

1. As Yfig said, don't direct the play in the script. Only make note of actions, props, set pieces, scenery, costumes, etc that are needed in the scene. Let the director choose miscellaneous props, actions etc., that add mood. For example if you describe a table with a vase holding flowers, the vase should feature in the action, like a character getting stung by a bee when sniffing the flowers.

2. Do not write anything that cannot be seen or heard. Do not write what the character is thinking, do not write what they are seeing if the audience can't see it happening, for example, don't write an action like this: "Sam is concerned that Emily will go into shock from her bee sting and wonders where the ambulance is. Sam walks to the window and looks out and sees the ambulance coming." You would just write: Sam walks to the window. SFX - AMBULANCE SIREN. SAM - Finally.

3. Keep in mind it is a visual medium. Only write actions important to the plot, but definitely use actions as well as dialog to convey your meaning. Like in the last example, you might have Sam move to Emily first and examine her bee sting, then move to the window. That would show he is concerned.
 

Heid

Senior Member
May be you could inspire from the tool : Celtx.com (free) - guide lines for movies, theater, novel ...
Of course you need first to read a lot and to see many theater pieces ...
Theater is a mecanic in which you need to think about the faisability of each scene.
When I write a scene too complexe, I just describe it as being with no decor.
And this is a rule you need also to respect : just give light instructions ... the director does'nt like you substitute to him. :)

Sage advice Yfig. I've used Celtx before so I will definitely be using it as and when I decide to have a go at adapting. Thanks for the note about stage directions :)
 

Yfig

Senior Member
You're must welcome.

The strange affair is that for movie script it is the opposite, you nedd to give as many detailed instructions as possible and the director will just not respect them ! :loyal:
 

Charlaux

Senior Member
I'd say the interaction is the biggest difference in writing for theatre. With writing novels you can break up characters speaking to each other and 'have a breather' with description of what's around them, what they're thinking, tiny details that will give clues that perhaps someone sitting in the back row of a theatre won't notice so you need the dialogue to 'reach' a lot further and do all of this for a theatre audience. Awkward silences are easily achieved, and not always where you want them to be. I'm writing my first play at the moment also and that's what I've found so far. :)
 

Edward Picot

Senior Member
Heid -

I think a lot depends on what kind of theatre you're writing for. If you're thinking of old-fashioned proscenium theatre with full stage-sets, then it's difficult to have lots of short scenes because of the amount of work involved in changing from one set to another, so you then have to find ways of concentrating the action into the fewest scenes you can manage. There's a real art to this, especially if you're adapting from a source text which is quite wide-ranging and disparate. On the other hand, if you're thinking of a much more bare theatrical format, or one where settings are suggested by lighting and audio effects rather than lots of props and furniture on the stage, you can shift from one scene to another much more readily. That's how Shakespeare did it, after all. But then what Shakespeare also did was suggest a lot of what was going on - like the time of day and the weather - by giving his characters descriptive speeches ("Night thickens, and the crow makes wing unto the rooky wood" etc.). Again, this method of suggesting a setting through what the characters say is an art in itself.
 
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