Staging the Fantastic



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This thesis examines the practice of adaptation and specifically the staging of literary works featuring elements of the fantastic. There is a long tradition of skepticism about depicting such fantastic elements on stage. Yet there is an equally long tradition of plays about gods, witches, fairies, talking animals, and magic. In this study, I examine successful recent productions of such works with a focus on the way that they utilize varying storytelling modes and systems of signification to overcome the challenges of staging the impossible. American Players Theatre’s 2014 production of An Iliad, adapted by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, revisited Homer’s epic of the Trojan War. The Tempest, staged by Teller and Aaron Posner, used techniques of stage magic in the service of Shakespeare’s story of the exiled sorcerer, Prospero. Synapse Productions brought the talking barnyard creatures of George Orwell’s allegorical fable Animal Farm to life through techniques of overt puppetry. And my own adaptation of Odd and the Frost Giants staged Neil Gaiman’s new tale of Norse mythological figures Thor, Loki, and Odin.



Adaptation, Puppetry, Fantastic literature