The Drive to Adapt

One of the unique aspects of Rumble’s commissioning program is that we are focused on the creation of new Canadian plays based on existing classic texts; in other words, adaptations. Our AD Stephen Drover explains why adaptations are not only enlightening but necessary.

adaptation-clipart-k8655220The medium of theatre is time and good theatre uses time successfully. As a temporal, ephemeral art, theatre is always on the move and tends not to sit still for too long. So, to truly appreciate and understand where we are and where we are going, we have to throw the occasional glance in the rear-view mirror, to see where we came from and what we can learn from history.

I used to direct a lot of classical texts. I firmly believed (and still do) that there is great power in exploring the voices of yesterday; that to work with classical theatre is to stand on the shoulders of giants and see further than you normally could. I’ve also worked with my share of contemporary plays and I know that theatre needs to reflect how we think, behave and treat each other today; that it – by definition – lives in the here and now.

The dream, then, is to find a marriage of two traditions: to speak timeless narratives with contemporary voices. Perhaps adaptation is the answer. To generate new adaptations of classical texts is to foster a special creative partnership between yesterday’s and today’s playwrights; to put them together in the same room, so to speak, and ask them: “Have we really changed that much?” At Rumble, we believe that this remarkable partnership means listening to timeless echoes, looking at the dreams, fears and hopes of today, and finding a common ground with the stories that have been passed down to us.

So we harness the enduring narratives that we hold in our collective memories, reshape them for contemporary sensibilities, and craft new plays with today’s playwrights.

Adaptations allow us to listen to old voices while clearly speaking with our own. They look back and move forward at the same time.

Rumble’s next production, Indian Arm by Hiro Kanagawa, is a contemporary, Vancouver-based adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 19th-century play Little Eyolf. To find out more about the show or to buy tickets, click here.

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