Adaptation in Stage and Screen Writing

This intensive two-day creative writing weekend will explore key elements of designing and writing original drama for stage, screen or radio that is created through adapting and dramatizing two key types of source material. The writing and producing of dramatized adaptations is a key and exciting part of both the theatre and TV / film industries.

The first day will look at how to use story design and characterisation to create drama from factual – historical, contemporary news, life stories, and so on – source material. As well as exploring the mechanics of successful writing for performance, we will consider how to determine the balance between ‘creating a good story’ and telling a ‘truthful’ one.

On the second day we will further investigate, then practise, the key skills needed to dramatize stories that are adapted from other literary forms. What challenges and opportunities, for example, does the writer face when taking a work of prose fiction and turning it into a script for performance?

Each day will contain a mix of activities: input from the tutor, reading script extracts and watching TV and film clips for analysis, small group plot devising, solo writing and whole group discussion and peer critiquing activities.

This weekend aims to inspire anyone who has ever said ‘that story, that event, that moment in history would make a great film, or play’.

Tutor: Mr Shaun McCarthy
Shaun McCarthy has had over a dozen stage plays professionally produced and a range of radio dramas broadcast. His adaptations include J M Synge’s The Aran Islands (BBC R4 Classic Serial), a stage version of A Christmas Carol that was a critique of David Cameron’s ‘big society’ and had a happy, unexpected ending; and a re-setting of Strindberg’s Miss Julie to Oxford in 1963. Shaun teaches a range of creative writing courses for the Department for Continuing Education, runs Hooligan Theatre Productions to develop his new plays, and co-runs the writing events and residential writers’ retreats company ‘Stage and Page in the UK and Italy.