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Least Suitable Adaptations


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In earlier threads we've discussed novels that we would like to see translated to ballet. The "Gone with the Wind" threads have me pondering novels (or films, or whatever) that you think would be LEAST adaptable. Then, adapt it, cast it, do what you will. (Pretend you are a dotty impresario along the lines of Corky St. Clair in the movie" Waiting for Guffman", who adapted the fireman epic "Backdraft" for the stage, with unhappy consequences.)

I'll go first. I am thinking about a ballet version of "The Thorn Birds". As some of you may know, most of the novel takes place on an Australian sheep station, but I figure I can get around this by setting most of the outdoor scenes in the barn. There will be an impressive Act One group dance built around the sheep shearing contest, with shirtless corps boys brandishing shears and sheepskins, (although actual animals onstage would probably not be prudent).

The central love story concerns a priest stoutly resisting his passion for the belle of the sheep station, Meggie Cleary, so there will be at least one pas de deux in which Father Ralph explains in dance that while he loves Meggie, he loves the Vatican more.

In Act Two, we introduce Meggie's ambitious suitor, winner of the contest, with a pas de trois showing Meggie Torn Between Two Lovers. There's also a big fire around this time, which I can't do anything with, but the death of one of Meggie's brothers after a confrontation with a wild boar can be dealt with by means of a character dancer in a boar suit. When Father Ralph departs for Rome, the scene moves to the Vatican, complete with dancing cardinals. It's time for another pas de deux for Meggie and Ralph when they are briefly reunited and their passion is fulfilled.

As for the third part of the book, I'm kind of stumped. I think I'll eliminate the next generation a la the 1939 movie version of Wuthering Heights, and end the ballet with Meggie revealing her pregnancy to Father Ralph in the manner of Gelsey Kirkland announcing her expectations to Patrick Bissell at the end of The Tiller in the Fields.

Excuse the length of this introduction. Any other suggestions?

[This message has been edited by dirac (edited October 10, 2000).]

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Great topic, dirac! I think "The Thorn Birds" is probably on somebody's drawing board as we speak. (But should be scrapped in favor of your brilliant and very funny, outline.)

"The Tin Drum" sprung into my mind as the most unadaptable thing I could think of. But it does have a very short hero biggrin.gif

How about the novels of Edna Ferber? "Ice Palace," a multigenerational saga about Alaskan statehood, interracial marriage and igloos would be glacially unmanageable (Richard Burton was in the movie version, if I'm remembering correctly.)

"Looking for Mr. Goodbar" has the advantage of a lame heroine AND dozens of pas de deux, not to mention a stunning finale.

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For me, it's a tie between "Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York" and/or "Fahrenheit 451".

No, wait.....it's for sure "Fahrenheit 451" - they would NEVER be able to burn all those books on stage!!

I don't know.....Bejart's company might be able to pull off a little book burning on stage and get away with it (they have certainly tried doing just about everything else on stage!!) biggrin.gif

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Guest dancewriter

Atlas Shrugged: The Ballet!

I can't think of anything more antithetical to ballet than this homage to industry by Ayn Rand. Wonder if she ever went to the ballet???

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Recently I awoke from an odd dream, in which I imagined that there was a Broadway show produced by Disney called "Aida", with music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice. The tagline (in the dream, of course) was "The Story of a Love that Flourished in a time of Hate."

Almost nothing could top that of course--but I was wondering about the opus from the 1960's "Valley of the Dolls"--although it does cry out for being done more as an opera than a ballet.

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I had a similar dream some years ago, Ed, only it involved some poems by T.S. Eliot and large singing cats.

Also, I realized I made an unforgivable error in an earlier post. I paired Richard Burton with the wrong blonde. It was Angie Dickinson in Bramble Bush, another turkey, and Martha Hyer in Ice Palace. My apologies to fans of lousy movies everywhere.

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Speaking of T.S Eliot, how about The Waste Land? Ok, I know it's not strictly a book, but I'm feeling cruel and would absolutly love to see someone have a go at it. Bejart prehaps? I sure he'd have fun with 'Old man with wrinkled female breasts'.

Oh, and there's always Down and out in Paris and London and of course Animal Farm, in fact anything by George Orwell!

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I wish you hadn't mentioned Orwell, Salome, for what it provoked in my mind. . .

TOGETHER FINALLY!

In Ballet-O-Round! With a Bokanovsky Corps de Ballet of Zillions!

See the Betas bourree!

See the Alphas do arabesques!

Derek Deane and English National Ballet present. . .

ALDOUS HUXLEY'S

BRAVE NEW BALLET!

Coming soon to a sports arena near you if Bejart doesn't crib the idea first. Oh, Ford. I'm going to put an ice pack on my head now.

------------------

Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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PRESENTING for the first time anywhere, a ballet SO BIG it could only be staged at Madison Square Garden: WAR & PEACE - uncut. This spectacular ballet, performed by a company of thousands, includes vivid reconstructions of the battles and balls. There are beautiful sets and exquisite period costumes. Realistic sound and visual effects usually seen only in the movies. Your children, so accustomed to violence on-screen, will appreciate the blood and gore. Ticket prices include breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening snack. All seats will have adjustable headrests, so that those who need catnaps don't fall over on their neighbor.

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Most of the replies I've seen so far seem to focus on works which are long, or which deal with large themes. I think "War and Peace" for instance, while it might be long, wouldn't necessarily be bad (so long as you skip all that philosophising at the end - well, I did). After all, Wagner is long, and deals with large themes, but people sit through it. (yes, I know...opera, not ballet)

I see something by Ionescu as perhaps the kind of thing to aim for - "Chairs", maybe.

Of course, I am well-known for my ability to predict the success of musical theatre productions. I recall driving home from work and hearing Andrew Lloydd-Weber interviewed about a new musical he was hoping to make based on T. S. Eliot's cat poems. No way! I said.

Then, a few years later, I was living in The Barbican (apartment development in the City of London) We were offered discounted tickets for a production of the new musical version of "Les Miserables", when it opened at the Barbican Theatre. Not worth baby-sitting money, I thought. Ah well.

Fran

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I was of the same opinion, which doubtless explains why Cameron Mackintosh is worth a fortune and I am, well, not.

Actually, Flemming Flindt did adapt Ionesco's "The Lesson". Haven't seen it but I understand it wasn't bad.

[This message has been edited by dirac (edited October 13, 2000).]

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Ok - I see the possibility of making SOME kind of synopsis of War & Peace, I think it would be very difficult to do it justice (whereas Anna Karenina has definite possibilities) - but I was proposing the "complete & uncut" version. Next suggestion: Ulysses.

By the way, I have a special fondness for "The Lesson" - I was the ASM when it was done at the Colisseum (London) in 1977 as part of the Nureyev & Friends presentation. It starred Nureyev and Makarova.

Karen

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