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Contact: Elena Hartwell - email@example.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com
The Life of Wryly
We started rehearsals for Prairie Nocturne by the brilliant author Ivan Doig, which I've adapted for Book-It Repertory Theatre. The difference between creating from the ground up and taking someone else's work and shaping it into a script, is like the difference between piloting a plane and flying as a passenger.
Both have inherent risks. But when I write my own scripts, the story takes me along and I just record the voices in my head. Adapting Ivan Doig's book, I knew what the plane looked like, I knew where we took off and where we would land, but if I failed, I'd take my co-pilot down with me, not to mention all the other passengers on the plane.
Maintaining his stunning use of language, while honing in on an active, concise script challenged me as a playwright in ways my own scripts never do. He has an interesting and complex story, so a lot of paring down had to be done to keep it from running five hours. His characters are engaging and compelling, so that helps to propel the story, but which aspects of them to keep and which aspects to cut? My main goal, however, has been to bring his lyrical writing into dialogue that protects his poetry, but moves the story forward in a dramatic way.
The first read through on Dec 27th went very well. Ivan and his wife, Carol, were in attendance. I couldn't decide if that thrilled me or terrified me. A bit of both. I admit I occasionally looked over at them to try to read their reactions.
Note to self, never try to read an author's face while hearing my adaptation of his work for the first time.
I can't tell you how relieved I am to report Ivan and Carol both approved.
Check back throughout the month of January for updates on the process. The show opens February 10th and runs through March 4th.