On the Issue of Adaptation in Restoration Theatre : Some Theoretical and Methodological Observations



Year of publication 2020
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The presentation will be a prolegomena to an upcoming survey study of adaptation(s) in Restoration theatre. While a chapter or a section on Restoration adaptations tends to be included in any substantive companion to Restoration drama, any such endeavour poses certain methodological difficulties and raises several questions. Even nowadays, theatre scholars admit that the term adaptation “eludes definition because it is so context specific”. Some theatre practitioners prefer the word appropriation instead since “adaptation is perceived to be too linked to literary practices and text-based theatre”, suggesting that the concepts are near or complete synonyms. Scholars such as Sanders, however, see a clear difference between the two, maintaining that whereas an adaptation “signals a relationship with an informing source text or original”, an appropriation “frequently affects a more decisive journey away from the informing source into a wholly new cultural product and domain”. None of these terms, however, existed or were commonly applied in the period under study, raising the question of what the object of such a study should be. Restoration adaptive efforts could include anything from thematic inspiration by an older work or genuine attempts to make pre-Commonwealth plays more relevant to the Restoration audience, to cases of plagiarism that were mocked and criticised by playwrights themselves. Another question is the difference in the treatment of domestic (English) and foreign (Continental) sources, the latter of which seems to have been “safer” to borrow without raising authorship controversies. Furthermore, Drábek has recently suggested that translation (being a kind of adaptation) for the early-modern theatre is “far removed from a simple binary of source-target”, suggesting that the traditional textual approach to theatre adaptation is not sufficient and that the issue requires an entirely new methodology. The presentation will, therefore, offer an array of questions about, as well as possible approaches to, the issue of Restoration adaptation and will welcome the audiences’ comments and suggestions for further research.
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