Then What Happens? - Storytelling & Adapting for the Theatre

Mike Alfreds
Nick Hern Books

Then What Happens?

As the man behind Shared Experience, a company that built its reputation on adaptations of novels for the stage, Mike Alfreds is probably the ideal person to write this book.

With it, he sets out to create the definitive manual for anybody wishing to adapt works other than plays for performance.

The book really falls into two distinct sections. The first 150 or so pages provide a history of Shared Experience and considerable theoretical analysis of this art form.

This is both fascinating and instructive for the general reader as well as practitioners. It might be remarked that on occasion, Mr Alfreds labours his points a little too much and can get repetitive. Overall though he presents a series of detailed and sometimes eye-opening lessons that are guaranteed to change the way that readers will view adaptations in future.

His guidance is usually practical, drawing on the company's experiences when creating such works as A Thousand and One Nights and their ten-hour rendition of Bleak House.

The remaining two-thirds of the volume is taken up by detailed descriptions of no fewer than 60 workshops for those attempting to develop theatrical productions from text written with other purposes in mind, typically to be read silently at home.

Falling into 15 different categories, they provide a comprehensive framework covering everything from drooping, dropped and faded endings through breath, gesture and reliving to individual transformations of activities and rather amusingly something to sit on.

There is so much more too, which will prove invaluable to directors, actors and even designers and choreographers.

This book might have a relatively limited audience but to anybody with an interest in what is potentially a fascinating topic, should come into the must have category.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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