I’ve begun laying the groundwork for my stage adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” My deadline is August 1 for this one-hour comedy, which is being written especially for the Jefferson County Developmentally Disabled Resource Center’s adult drama program.
Writing for variously abled actors is a delightful challenge. Most of the actors and their unique talents and personalities are familiar to me, having directed two of their annual productions in the past. I know that most of these actors think primarily of the MGM film version of the story, though some have been associated with other stage versions in years past. I’m going to have to meet their expectations, while coaxing them into trying a different way to tell the story.
I’m starting with the original text. I’ve got Baum’s book, which I will read mostly because I don’t want to be limited to the film’s selection of events. Also, since the novel is public domain, any familiar dialogue I wish to “lift” from the primary source is fair game.
Among my concerns for this adaptation is to maximize the stage time for the cast, minimize set and costume changes (a formidable challenge considering the “quest” nature of the story), and give as many actors as possible, memorable moments to shine. I don’t like plays that require one or two actors to carry the whole show, so I’m thinking of making this an ensemble production, much like what I did with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” last year.
To fit the action into a 60 minute maximum time frame, I’m going to have to compress, simplify or even cut the story down, and yet provide rich, colorful and comedic action and dialogue.
Two weeks out of July are taken up with travel, vacation and conferences, so I’m going to have to work quickly and efficiently, and without neglecting the ongoing development of my novel. My “deadline” for my debut Inquisitor novel is to have at least the first draft completed by the end of the year.
I wish I could click my heels three times and have a finished manuscript plop down on my desk, but the process is more than half the fun!