Project Title

Adapting and Updating Modern Text for Contemporary Audiences

Academic department under which the project should be listed

COTA - Theatre and Performance Studies

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Thomas Fish

Disciplines

Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Throughout theatre and literature, the term “modern” as a descriptor, is somewhat of a misnomer as it, by definition, refers to things of the present time. While this technically is accurate when considering the Modern Era of literature, colloquially, the word does not accurately describe what is being presented. When looking at theatre from the modern era, something important needs to be considered: the culture and society that these plays were written in are completely different than that of today. A play written in the late nineteenth century will have vastly different politics and societal norms from what we see today. For these plays to be relevant, those differences must be assessed and considered. This would be done to mark the areas where pieces or “Modern” literature may fall short culturally, as well as highlight what can be done to mold such works into something more relevant, and therefore more impactful. This project will do this by looking critically at a piece of modern theatre, The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, and the original context in which it was written. It will then go on to examine how that context differs from the context in which it would be performed today. Not only will this touch on various ways of interpreting the text, but it will also include contemporary adaptation of the script and how that can shift the way it is received. This opens up the discussion of which of these differences should be addressed when producing or adapting these plays, and what is the best way to go about bringing these stories to an audience.

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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Adapting and Updating Modern Text for Contemporary Audiences

Throughout theatre and literature, the term “modern” as a descriptor, is somewhat of a misnomer as it, by definition, refers to things of the present time. While this technically is accurate when considering the Modern Era of literature, colloquially, the word does not accurately describe what is being presented. When looking at theatre from the modern era, something important needs to be considered: the culture and society that these plays were written in are completely different than that of today. A play written in the late nineteenth century will have vastly different politics and societal norms from what we see today. For these plays to be relevant, those differences must be assessed and considered. This would be done to mark the areas where pieces or “Modern” literature may fall short culturally, as well as highlight what can be done to mold such works into something more relevant, and therefore more impactful. This project will do this by looking critically at a piece of modern theatre, The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, and the original context in which it was written. It will then go on to examine how that context differs from the context in which it would be performed today. Not only will this touch on various ways of interpreting the text, but it will also include contemporary adaptation of the script and how that can shift the way it is received. This opens up the discussion of which of these differences should be addressed when producing or adapting these plays, and what is the best way to go about bringing these stories to an audience.

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