A Fine Balancing Act: Adapting the Verse Novel to the Stage

Jeri Kroll, Leslie Jacobson

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Composing a verse novel is a complex process because of its dual identity-poetry and fiction. The challenge of adapting a verse novel to the stage highlights these generic negotiations by taking them to another level. The writer and collaborators (directors, composer and actors, in particular) need to go back to basics, interrogating the nature of poetry and drama in order to reconceive the work so that it becomes an effective script, satisfying on multiple levels. In this transformation the author's original conception of the creative work must alter. The process of collaboration with director, actors and associated professionals raises questions, therefore, about a range of artistic tasks, among them defining the characteristics of each genre and the meaning of fidelity. Finally, who has oversight over the project? By drawing on our experiences collaborating on a staged adaptation of Jeri Kroll's verse novel, Vanishing Point, and considering other examples of adaptation, we argue through structured responses by each practitioner that this type of unstable mode is particularly suited to dramatic transformation because it enhances poetry's orality and dramatic potential as well as drama's ability to embody conflict.To date, Vanishing Point has been adapted as four performances, including a staged reading at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Page to Stage Festival (5 September 2011, Washington DC) and a workshop with actors, director, composer and movement director (June 2012). Puncher and Wattman will publish the complete verse novel.A short preliminary study by Jeri Kroll appears as From page to stage: a case study of transforming a verse novel, in Encounters: refereed conference papers of the 17th annual AAWP conference, 2012, http://www.aawp.org.au/publications. This co-authored essay considerably expands the argument from two perspectives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)182-201
    Number of pages20
    JournalNew Writing: The International Journal For The Practice and Theory of Creative Writing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2014


    • collaborative authorship
    • cross-genre adaptation
    • dramaturgy
    • verse novel


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