...when everything is working well, something mysterious happens between an audience and a play that isn't just the sum of the component parts. It can spring from the obviously fantastical and from the most minutely described realism: Rostand makes it happen, and so does Shaw. It happens with original plays, and it happens with adaptations. But something happens, and everything is transformed. We could use a scientific term like emergence for this process, or we could use an older word and call it sorcery; but whatever we call it, there's no point in trying to explain it to those who insist on a functional justification for everything, those who can only see value in an activity if it brings in money from tourists, or helps children with their GCSEs. They'll never understand. You have to find some other sort of language if you want to convince them.
But that strange and inexplicable thing is what the theatre is for. That's why we need it.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Philip Pullman, writing in The Guardian, explains why he enjoys stage adaptions of his work.