Simon Wood

Shelf Life: Play With Me

I was in Seattle over the weekend for a couple of dramatizations of my short stories. Over on nearby Vashon Island, the Vashon arts center performed a dramatization of The Taskmasters (from ASKING FOR TROUBLE) and played a studio recording of Old Flames Burn The Brightest (from WORKING STIFFS).

This was the first time some tinkered with my work as it were. I’ve had work translated and turned into audio stories, but I’ve not had anyone adapt any of my works. It’s an odd experience, if I’m frank, because someone isn’t replicating my words, but changing them, playing with them and horror of horrors, tinkering with them.

I was offered the chance to get involved with the productions, but I chose not to. I could see myself getting sucked into the adaptations and getting too emotionally invested and digging my heels in. Control wasn’t the way to go. It was best to let go and enjoy the results. It’s kinder for my blood pressure.

I can’t say I wasn’t nervous when Julie and I walked into the theater. I wasn’t nervous because of what had been done to my work, but what people would think of me, because I was in the room with the people consuming my story. Normally, I’m nowhere near my readers when they’re in the “act”. I’m not sitting next to them when they’re reading. I didn’t have that luxury this time around. I was in the room with my public, on hand to hear every potential giggle and disappointed tut. Eek! To say I was feeling a little exposed was an understatement. My bottom was hanging out there for all to see and no one wants to see that.

Well, with that visual out of the way, how did it go?

Not too bad. The Taskmasters was quite a bit different from my short story. The play followed the general thread of my story and I did have to wait a bit before I heard a line I’d written, but it didn’t matter. All I really want when some adapts my work that they are true to the spirit of the story and on that score, it was mission accomplished. I must admit I enjoyed Old Flames Burn The Brightest. There’s an intensity to that story because it only features three characters and it carried over into the radio play. I hope you’ll be able to hear for yourself when it goes out over the air.

However, if I thought I could slip away unseen, I had agreed to answer questions after the performance, and people asked questions and didn’t throw things, so that was good. So my first brush with adapted work wasn’t too bad and I can’t wait for it to happen again. Are you listening Hollywood? 🙂

As much as I handed the theatrical reins over to someone this occasion, I would like to take a crack at it myself. I want to write my original work for the stage and radio. As someone who grew up with Radio 4 productions, I love the audio medium and I’ve always thought my story, My Father’s Secret, would make for a good stage play. The big question is, if write it, will you come?

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