December 22, 2011
Looking for adaptation
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Every year I embark on a summer reading project: all of Shakespeare (several times); the Bible; all of Jane Austin; Restoration Plays (yaaaaaawwwwwwwwn). This year I decided to tackle the Big One: the seven volumes of Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. It took me a whopping six months. (I do believe that is what the kids call a humblebrag.)
"How would one adapt this to the stage? Or to anything - musical, film, opera, ballet?"
Less than 100 pages into its 3500 or so, I was already thinking, "How would one adapt this to the stage? Or to anything - musical, film, opera, ballet?" Pinter and director Di Trevis did it in 2000 and gave a three-hour play which received generally favourable reviews.
Simply, I can't imagine that. I was seeing it as a series of plays, each around one of one of Proust's set pieces: salon parties whose dynamics reveal everything about everyone in the room; conversations about a dead woman who, it is revealed, was a Lesbian; the turbulent relationship between a young male violinist being kept by a much older (and decaying) aristocrat; a close friendship built on a huge lie. So many plays filled with such magnificent dialogue and revelatory, cogitative monologues which are almost plays in themselves.
YES! The Lulu plays! There's a musical!
Thinking of adapting Proust got me to thinking about Joel Fishbane, a columnist here, and an article he wrote about looking for a subject for a musical. I've toyed with that idea since his article, making a bit of a game of it. The reading of Proust and watching Pandora's Box on Turner Movie Classics and thought, YES! The Lulu plays! There's a musical! Sure, Alban Berg did his opera and though I love it, it is defo an acquired taste. But to take Wedekind's Lulu plays - her innocent and hideous betrayals, her crimes and misdemeanours, the men (and woman) who loved and lusted after her, the parties (indeed the never-ending party that is her life), the riches, the poverty, the ultimate encounter (with Jack the Ripper, no less)...you got yourself one mofo musical.
It's a good game, innit?