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annehart

annehart

Adapting paperback fiction to plays or scripts

Anne Hart, NYC, 1945

 

You also may wish to check out online the title of my paperback book on techniques of writing plays, scripts, skits, and monologues, with sample play:  Ethno-Playography: How to Create Salable Ethnographic Plays, Monologues, & Skits from Life Stories, Social Issues.

 

Just noticed what's in a lot of thrift stores. Seems so much art work, knitting, crocheting, and crafts made by older adults are ending up in thrift stores, second hand stories, and shops that sell gently used goods for charities have such wonderful paintings, ceramic art, and fiber art made by older people who spent years designing and creating those arts and crafts.

Yet nothing ends up in galleries...Much more often in those thrift shops where they remain on shelves for years...The work should be on display in art galleries, museums, and at craft shows.

All that work in such dim light among all the used clothing and bric-a-brac, especially those rows after rows of painted seascapes, nature scenes, portraits, illustrated flowers on ceramics, fiber art/tapestries, crocheted covers, and textile designs.

If the art also had been expressed or narrated in documentary video production, the display might have been worldwide and online. That opens the questions to what happens to the paperback books of unknown, often unread self-published authors whose works don't get into libraries? Do the books go online, or end up recycled as bathroom tissue? Sometimes a novel works when expanded into a play with a radio play version uploaded online for others to read or produce someday.

The avenues might be left open for the word to be heard and the designs put to use or displayed. An example is textile art, which can be put to use as fabric to be turned into interior decor, props, or clothing. Paperback books can be adapted to plays for online use or in workshops, or uploaded online to be read anywhere in the world.

 

Someone's creative works can be transformed from one format to another. And artwork can be looked at in a wide variety of places in addition to the back walls of thrift shops, among the used clothing, lamps, radios, and eating utensils.

 

Techniques of Writing Dialogue for Plays or Scripts or Adapting Stories and Novels to Drama

 

In this excerpt from this author's stage play, (which also can be used as a radio play or Internet performance) you see how family dissonance is handled through dialogue. The dialogue is kept to short sentences, making it easier for actors to memorize the lines. The point is no particular character has a run-on monologue in a play where the goal is to have each person say a sentence that makes a point about universal values that focus on the conflict between commitment and the need for freedom to be an individual with goals of particular achievements.

 

When you write dialogue, the words can encompass the gestures, body language, and behavior so that emotion is depicted in your play by where a character looks. For example, on a dance floor to show a shy character, you'd likely have the person take a sudden interest in his or her shoes if noticed or spoken to. The dialogue needs to be terse, short, and to the point. The message conveyed would be by gesture, looks, or behavior. And the emotion plays out by the character's actions toward one another. A character moving toward another character says something different from the character whose head turns away from the person to whom he or she speaks, or the gaze is averted.

 

In this excerpt from this author's stage play, you see how family dissonance is handled through dialogue. The dialogue is kept to short sentences, making it easier for actors to memorize the lines. The point is no particular character has a run-on monologue in a play where the goal is to have each person say a sentence that makes a point about universal values that focus on the conflict between commitment and the need for freedom to be an individual with goals of particular achievements.

 

When you write dialogue, the words can encompass the gestures, body language, and behavior so that emotion is depicted in your play by where a character looks. For example, on a dance floor to show a shy character, you'd likely have the person take a sudden interest in his or her shoes if noticed or spoken to. The dialogue needs to be terse, short, and to the point. The message conveyed would be by gesture, looks, or behavior. And the emotion plays out by the character's actions toward one another. A character moving toward another character says something different from the character whose head turns away from the person to whom he or she speaks, or the gaze is averted.

 

Here is a sample, an excerpt from this author's play. For more information on writing dialogue to show behavior, emotion, and intent, check out the book (which has the entire play) Ethno-Playography: How to Create Salable Ethnographic Plays, Monologues, & Skits from Life Stories, Social Issues... by Anne Hart (July 27, 2007)

Excerpt from Anne Hart's stage (and/or radio play), "Coney Island" (Fiction)...Sample of how a play is written/condensed from a paperback novel:

Setting: late 1950s, NYC: Two young female college students (who are friends) are having a conversation in a living room

 

DARLENE

Nice boys of your own ethnic group won't marry you.

HADARA

Even with my master's degree in English?

DARLENE

No, because it's not a terminal degree.

What are you going to do, read them Shakespeare?

HADARA

Sounds like I'm auditioning for a soul mate.

DARLENE

They'll ask what your father does for a living.

They want your dad to set them up in business.

Or pay their medical school tuition.

You don't have big breasts and a small nose.

In fact, your face is scarred horribly.

So you'd better have daddy's big trust fund.

You have to be practical with men.

HADARA

I'd rather run my own business.

I'm marrying to get away from poverty.

Why do men ask what does your father do for a living instead of what you plan to do with your life?

DARLENE

Women are judged by what their husbands do.

HADARA

My dad mops toilets in the Navy Yard.

I'm too phobic to learn to drive.

And I don't feel safe alone with men.

DARLENE

Maybe you'll like being a bag lady.

You'll get to ride the stinky bus all your life.

What if I don't find a husband with a house as big as my dad's?

HADARA

There's a shortage of princes.

I'm desperate, Darlene, desperate.

DARLENE

My sister's already a producer in Beverly Hills.

HADARA

She graduated from an Ivy League drama school. You just started secretarial college.

DARLENE

Think a man cares what you do for a living? No one ever asked me what I do.

HADARA

All they ask me is what does your father do?

DARLENE

Your knight in armor wouldn't want you to neglect his babies.

HADARA

Or clean up after his horse.

DARLENE

What's your trade-off?

Without a doctorate, you'll never find a tenured job in academia.

I know because I work as a secretary for a college.

HADARA

I've already published a novel.

DARLENE

In a woman, that's like being a cripple.

Like I said, sooner or later, I'll get this big house.

My sister's already got the big script editing job in Hollywood.

Creative but poor gals like you need to stick with a real job like mine.

HADARA

Never. I need the Pulitzer Prize.

The road ahead lies in observing this planet.

We're news because we're the media.

DARLENE

And still waiting to be rescued, like the censored media.

So how do I launch you?

HADARA

I'm gifted, damn it. The media is an eternal teenager.

DARLENE

Don't think you're somebody special because you work hard. I work smart.

HADARA

When's the last time you ever shoveled snow?

DARLENE

Your brother's a lawyer why didn't he ever introduce you to his rich friends?

HADARA

Law is no profession for a poor boy.

DARLENE

My family would never turn their back on me.

But your brother hates you.

HADARA

Ignores. Fears. Withdraws.

DARLENE

You mom's retarded.

HADARA

She's a storefront musician, a psychic and a telepathic clairvoyant, like me.

DARLENE

She's a kvetch.

HADARA

Quality men freak out when they meet me.

DARLENE

Because you're bizarre. And I've heard that line enough from you.

HADARA

Your bust is as flat as mine.

So how come you're rich?

DARLENE

I had a nose job.

End of Scene.

Curtain.

Act III

New Scene: Spot Light/Sound Effects or CUT TO:

Tsipke's Apartment - Sept. 1963 - Night

HADARA is sitting at her desk in her room reading a book on archaeology. The phone rings. She walks into the living room to answer it. She's alone at home.

HADARA

Hello? Oh, hi, Darlene.

DARLENE

(on phone)

My two-hundred dollar purse is missing.

I'm giving you a chance to return it before I phone the insurance company.

HADARA

You're crazy. I wouldn't touch your purse and ruin my reputation.

DARLENE

My mom's on the extension.

HADARA

Didn't you just come from your therapist?

DARLENE

Are you going to return my hundred and twenty-five dollar purse?

I'm calling the insurance company--now.

HADARA

I didn't see any purse.

But I can see from where you grabbed the idea.

On a separate phone line:

GOLDIE , (DARLENE'S MOTHER)

dials up HADARA's brother, BENJAMIN who's working

late at his law office.

GOLDIE

Listen to this, you thief.

BENJAMIN

(on phone line)

Law Offices.

Hello? Is anyone on the line?

GOLDIE

Your mother was arrested for shoplifting.

What kind of a forblundget family are you, anyway?

BENJAMIN

What kind of trash?

Human garbage!

Are you trying to get me fired?

BENJAMIN makes angry gestures and hangs up on her.

HADARA

What I told you about my mom was in confidence.

DARLENE

Did you hear what my mom said?

HADARA

Who can I trust with my life?

Surely not my best friend.

DARLENE

There wasn't anyone else here.

HADARA

My own family scares me to hell.

GOLDIE

Darlene never lies to me.

HADARA

She's jealous of my Arab fiancé, because her own Arab boyfriend rejected your family's background.

GOLDIE

If you don't return her purse, I'll have your brother disbarred.

I'm making a citizen's arrest.

HADARA

Nothing can scare me any more.

DARLENE

Well, the next step is to tell the insurance company.

HADARA

You've never confided in me the way I've opened up to you.

DARLENE

You must have actually thought you were my best friend.

HADARA

I pity your real sister.

DARLENE

Like mother, like daughter.

HADARA

I'm the most honest person you'll ever meet.

DARLENE

Give him up, for your own sake.

HADARA

I'm marrying that Syrian.

GOLDIE

Don't waste your time.

Your children will be afraid to tell anyone from their father's country that you're parents are from a place they've been at war with what seems like since the last ice age.

HADARA bangs the receiver with a vengeance.

End of Scene. Curtain.

New Scene.

Curtain Rises:

October 25, 1963

Ext. Tsipke's Apartment House Brooklyn Day

HADARA and AHMED walk up the stairs.

They hold hands.

We see wedding ring on HADARA'S finger.

Couple is smiling. HADARA giggles.

AHMED

You tell your parents first.

HADARA

No, you tell my mom.

HADARA knocks on the door of her parent's apartment.

TSIPKE opens the door and smiles.

End of Scene. Curtain.

New Scene.

INT. TSIPKE'S APARTMENT BROOKLYN 8 DAY

TSIPKE

Come on in.

I was just soaking my bridges.

HADARA and AHMED walk in and sit down on the sofa.

HADARA

Mom, we were married two hours ago in the County Clerk's office.

TSIPKE

You're kidding?

AHMED

No. We did it.

We had a hard time finding two witnesses to sign the certificate.

TSIPKE

It's a good thing you didn't ask me to come down to city hall.

My angina has gotten so painful, that I can't walk out of the house at all these days.

HADARA

We found this couple who were waiting to be married.

They acted as our witnesses.

TSIPKE

MEIR, hey, cockroach back, flat butt, get in here.

MEIR staggers from his bedroom to the living room.

MEIR

Well, hello strangers.

TSIPKE

Those two just got married.

AHMED

(with an Arabic accent)

We're going to spend the night at the Americana Hotel.

HADARA

Yeah. And I'm paying the sixty dollars a day from my college loan money.

AHMED

I'm going to look for work if I can borrow three dollars from you.

HADARA

Now, he tells me, after we were married that he's not an engineer.

TSIPKE

How much can you hope to make?

AHMED

I'm a machinist. I'm looking for a job. I don't have a secondary school diploma.

TSIPKE

Where's Benjamin.

We need a lawyer.

HADARA

Benjamin doesn't care.

MEIR

What kind of schooling do you have?

AHMED

I left Syria at seventeen to learn to be a machinist in German factories.

HADARA

That's all he does, mom.

He's just a factory Joe.

TSIPKE

Do you want to stay married?

HADARA

Yes. He told me he wants to have his own business.

TSIPKE

Can't Benjamin help you?

HADARA

He kind of slithered away.

MEIR

Benjamin is starving.

He won't work for anybody, and he can't find clients.

HADARA

Benjamin is dying with diabetes.

Don't bother him, I warn you.

TSIPKE

Well, before you go to the hotel, I want to give you a present.

TSIPKE scurries into the kitchen and grabs a gift-wrapped package from the cupboard.

AHMED

Is that a gift for me?

TSIPKE

I knew you two were going to be married soon.

TSIPKE hands the gift-wrapped package to AHMED.

He takes it and smiles, unwrapping it.

AHMED

Thank you, momma.

A dozen packages of condoms fall out of the package.

AHMED is startled.

HADARA breaks out in laughter.

She can't stop laughing.

AHMED examines one condom carefully, reading the package label.

AHMED

(laughing)

I thought you were giving me a wedding present, you know, like a watch.

HADARA

You knew we were going on our honeymoon tonight.

TSIPKE

My psychic abilities never fail me.

AHMED

Thank you, mommy.

TSIPKE

Don't let him put the rubber on dry and then ram into you.

That's how your old man tore me apart.

MEIR

Oh, shut your face.

I didn't know about women.

TSIPKE

He ripped me open trying to jam a dry condom into a young virgin.

MEIR

Is that why you made such an ugly, cringing face the first time?

I thought it was because I didn't take a bath.

TSIPKE

It was all over before you entered me.

Ahmed, he's a premature ejaculator. Hope you're not.

HADARA

Ma, don't embarrass him.

AHMED

We really must go.

TSIPKE

Where you eating dinner?

AHMED

Chinese restaurant.

MEIR

Go, already. It's six o'clock.

TSIPKE

(winking)

Gee, you made me feel young again.

I feel like it was me going on my honeymoon with a new man.

MEIR

Tsipke is watching our marriage die.

TSIPKE

Well, you're not pumping anything into it.

Our marriage is still just like I wrote on my honeymoon on that train to Florida.

MEIR

I remember finding your diary and crying. You wrote "Today I died."

TSIPKE

The real 'me' did. You only see what my job, my responsibility is. To take care of all of you, but it's like an observer from above looking down on a body going through the motions of taking care of you while my 'real' days of fun and adventure slip away as if I were invisible. We're all invisible and so totally alone.

HADARA

I'll be at the Americana for two days.

TSIPKE

So, long, honey. Hope you can still walk.

End of Scene.

Curtain.

NEW YEAR'S EVE, 1969

FADE IN:

INT. BALLROOM OF PLUSH HOTEL AT NIGHT

A live band is playing. A Hawaiian buffet is set out.

Couples are dancing. There is a Christmas tree.

Music plays "Auld Lang Syne."

HADARA (28) and AHMED (32) are seated at a table with

untouched plates of food in front of them.

AHMED

You're too crazy to have a lawyer.

HADARA

Why are you sending my babies to Syria?

AHMED

My mother will raise them just like I was raised.

HADARA

Answer my question.

AHMED

Just tell my lawyer that your health is too bad.

HADARA

But you told me if I signed the house over to you, that the divorce would be canceled.

Is this supposed to be the perfect marriage? I was always told that old proverb: that it's better to be lucky than rich.

AHMED

It costs too much to bring up kids here. Besides, they'd grow up to be drug addicts or whores...like American kids.

HADARA

You can't take them.

Please let me have just one.

AHMED

I'm not separating my kids.

They're my life. You can finally have that career.

Isn't that what you really want?

HADARA

I want a career for the time when my children will be busy with their own lives.

Besides, I paid thirty dollars for this romantic dinner.

AHMED

I want to be rid of you.

You're a stone around my neck. I want to be free.

HADARA

You want to be free?

There's no man freer than you.

AHMED

It's midnight.

I've got to get back to my restaurant.

At midnight, the music grows louder, all the couples sitting and on the dance floor hung and kiss.

HADARA

I can't stand to be alone in that mice-infested house.

AHMED

You want money?

Then go out and earn it.

Get a job like I had to do.

HADARA

I gave up that option when you forced me to have children.

AHMED gives HADARA the "barber's itch."

He pinches the hair at the nape of her neck and pulls her hair upwards to give her a sharp pain.

HADARA screams.

AHMED

Lower your voice, your whore.

Didn't you hear me? I said lower your voice.

I'll beat the sassiness out of you.

HADARA

That belly dancer told me you're the worst lover she ever had.

AHMED grabs HADARA and shakes her.

He throws her to the floor and kicks her as the dancing couples watch in horror.

AHMED

Are you coming home?

HADARA

How come your whore is old enough to be my mother?

AHMED

You're going to get it later tonight, you bitch.

End of Scene. Lights Out

New Scene at Hadara's Modest Cottage In San Diego:

Ext. Hadara's Modest Cottage.

Ahmed Shoves Hadara Up The Driveway And Into The House.

Int. Living Room Hadara's Home Night

She flops down on the sofa. AHMED paces the living room floor circling around her like a beast.

HADARA

I'm a total romantic.

AHMED hurries to the desk drawer and retrieves his handgun. He puts the gun in HADARA'S head.

AHMED

I want custody of the kids or you'll be dead in twenty-four hours.

AHMED shoves her back on the sofa as she tries to rise. He turns around, waving the gun, and thrusts his buttocks in HADARA'S face.

AHMED

Why do you think I go with a woman ten years older than you?

See any tail up there, man-hater?

HADARA

(shoves him away)

Get your butt out of my face.

She probably makes you feel important, and I make you feel responsible.

AHMED

I'm a man, not a beast.

No? No horns? No tail?

AHMED spins around and puts the gun in her head again.

HADARA

Your favorite pick-me-up is putting me down.

AHMED puts the gun in his belt and lights a cigarette. He rips off his shirt and lifts his arm, rubbing out the lighted cigarette in his armpit.

AHMED

See these scars?

What must I do to get rid of the pain?

AHMED rolls up his sleeveless undershirt to reveal shrapnel scars on his torso.

HADARA

I've seen them before.

AHMED

I'm willing to die...to kill to preserve the honor of my babies.

HADARA

And you're sending my kids back to Syria where twice you were tortured in jail there?

AHMED

The morals of too many Americans are like pigs.

AHMED spits in HADARA's face.

HADARA

Why'd you bring your two brothers here to live with us? I'm like a white slave.

AHMED

I'm running a restaurant, not a whorehouse.

HADARA

I gave up a young doctor for you, just to make peace.

AHMED

Peace? You think you're too good for me?

You think you're some pampered princess.

Don't you know anything about the care of husbands?

Bitch. Why'd you marry me?

HADARA

So I'd have a good subject for a book or a movie.

I wanted to be a visual anthropologist.

I couldn't afford the tuition.

So I decided to live as the other half lives in the third world.

I wanted to understand what it feels like to be an Arab.

AHMED

I'm not good enough for you, am I?

HADARA

You destroyed me.

AHMED

Look at you…a lawyer for a brother.

Your father's a janitor…mops toilets at night.

Eight-grade education…

I own my own business.

And I never graduated from secondary school.

HADARA

You need street smarts to compete.

AHMED

I dropped out of school to work as a machinist.

AHMED shakes her.

HADARA

Didn't I lease that restaurant and get you started in business?

Did I leave you when I found out you lied?

Doctor of mechanical engineering, bullshine.

AHMED

You're no good as a mother or as a woman.

HADARA

What kind of a father would dump his kids on his mother?

In another country, yet?

And then go back to his restaurant?

AHMED

Hamed, get your tail in here.

HADARA

How come you always run out of words?

Then your fists fly.

I'm a rich girl without money.

Not a poor girl.

AHMED

I want a divorce.

You're a rope around my neck.

I want to be free.

HADARA

Then give others freedom.

I'm housebound with panic disorder.

You're penniless.

What a great time to ask for a divorce.

AHMED

Hamed. Hurry up.

I need you in here.

AHMED calls in his brother, HAMED. He wakes up and treks into the living room, sleepy. He smiles a broad, weird grin, and looks at HADARA sadistically.

AHMED presses the sharp edge of the oriental coffee pot on the living room table against the side of HADARA'S head.

AHMED motions for his brother's help. HAMED walks over the HADARA. HAMED laughs wildly. The two men exchange words in Arabic.

HAMED pulls HADARA to her feet by her wrists. AHMED and HAMED drag HADARA into the bathroom and AHMED dips HADARA'S head into the toilet bowl and flushes.

AHMED

How many times have I told you to scrub the bowl?

HAMED

(laughing weirdly)

She never cleans it after somebody sprays the bowl with diarrhea.

AHMED drags HADARA'S head out of the flushing water by her hair.

AHMED

Hand me my razor blade.

HAMED fetches the straight razor from the cabinet and holds it. AHMED holds HADARA by the hair with one hand while she cries and screams and takes the razor in his other hand from HAMED.

HAMED

Shut your trap.

The neighbors will hear.

AHMED holds HADARA's wrists together in one hand with his steely strength while he presses the straight razor against both her wrists. HADARA trembles and sobs.

AHMED

If you try to fight me for custody in this divorce,

I'll slash your wrists and then tell the police you committed suicide.

HADARA

Don't leave me while I'm still agoraphobic.

I'll give you my parent's apartment house.

AHMED

Go unlock the door, Hamed.

HAMED drags HADARA across the living room floor by the wrists.

AHMED helps him. HAMED laughs. AHMED spits in HADARA'S face again.

He pulls her women's liberation emblem from the wall and kicks it along the carpet.

AHMED holds the razor against her throat and looks her in the eye for one long, silent moment. Then he throws HADARA out of the door into the night. It is raining. Spotlight or angle on AHMED on the telephone.

AHMED

Police? I want to report my wife has tried to commit suicide again.

Hurry over here. My two kids are sleeping, and I don't want her back in here to upset them.

Curtain. Lights Out:

End of Scene

New Scene

Curtain Rises:

Ext. Hadara's Home Rainy Night

HADARA bangs on the door. She cries, sobs, screams. But no one answers. She slithers down the door and sits in a heap on the doorstep as the rain washes over her.

Ext. Next Door Neighbor's House Night

HADARA sidles over to the next-door neighbor. She rings the bell. AVA JOHNSON, a young housewife answers.

AVA

Hey, it's three o'clock in the morning.

HADARA

He threw me out.

Can I come in?

AVA

Look, I don't want to get involved.

HADARA

Please...

Int. Ava Johnson's Living Room Night

AVA

So he tossed you on your ear again.

A woman is nothing without a real man.

HADARA

A woman without a man can go to bed knowing she'll still be alive in the morning.

AVA

You killed your own marriage.

Don't think I didn't hear it die.

HADARA

He didn't pump anything into it.

AVA

Woman, you're addicted to romance.

I bet you read all those romance novels.

HADARA

Read them? I write them.

AVA

So what are you here for?

HADARA

My psychiatrist betrayed me.

He played the recorded tapes of our session to my husband.

He's Ahmed's friend.

Ahmed is keeping his rugs for him in his restaurant.

My doctor betrayed me after he promised me what I said would be confidential.

AVA

What do you expect?

You just said that the doctor is his best friend.

HADARA

I don't have any friends, and no living relatives.

I feel I'm in the way between your husband and you.

AVA

I'm not your friend.

I'm your neighbor.

HADARA

Ava, help me.

AVA

I can't help you.

You can probably attract men, but you'll never keep them.

HADARA

He expects me to go out and find a job.

I don't want to work. I want a man to support me so

I can fulfill my career dreams.

AVA

Tough luck, cookie.

Fulfill your dreams after sixty-five like I'll have to do.

HADARA

I'm agoraphobic.

There's no way I can walk out of that house.

AVA

Love junkie! He's already kicked you to mediocrity.

Girl, do you have a sense of entitlement to cure?

End of Scene

Curtain