Anderson, Sarah (1980)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The thesis investigates the concepts, processes and purposes involved in adapting one play into another. The study is based on post-1956 adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, and we find that these may be classified into five distinct types on the basis of the adaptive processes used: collages, cultural transpositions, domestications, reorientations and transformations. Despite differences between these types, all have common characteristics which enable us to term them ‘adaptations’ as opposed to directorial interpretations or new plays. Having established a definition of an adaptation we proceed to broaden its application, showing that any narrative form (eg novel, film) using a narrative source (eg history, legend) can be subjected to the same processes. The modern Shakespeare adaptations are then placed within their theatrical and political contexts in an attempt to explain their existence and their form. In this way we discover that the period 1959 to 1964 saw changes of dramatic form and of thematic purpose. Finally we consider whether it is valid to adapt plays, and suggest criteria for evaluating such adaptations. These criteria emphasise the significant connections between the adapted play and the adaptation, and so indicate how effectively this particular genre has been exploited.
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