My core concerns as a researcher of dramatic literature are focused around the theoretical and practical application of adaptation theory, as it pertains to the composition of contemporary theatrical versions of classical literature, both dramatic and non-dramatic. Further, I am highly attracted to the process of adaptation as a director and dramaturg, particularly in educational settings, because adaptive works provide unique opportunities to merge scholarship and artistic practice in the classroom and onstage. The practical performative aspects of adaptation theory appeal to me specifically as a director and dramaturg interested in the development of derived work, such as that created by artists such as Anne Bogart and her SITI Company. This type of work possesses considerable potential in the sphere of higher education as a means of simultaneously instilling artistic discipline and expression in young performing artists.
Guided by the work of Linda Hutcheon, I attest that the act of adaptation is “the norm, not the exception” as a primary urge of literature, and that successful adaptors are both interpreters and creators. Hutcheon’s ideas of textual oscillation between the adaptation and the source material have led to me pursue research in support of my ideas of “retroactive reading,” the dialogically inverse effect that occurs when a reader or audience member experiences an adaptation before encountering the “original” text. Currently I am in the process of developing a series of articles and conference papers that explore this idea, in anticipation of drafting a potential book-length manuscript on the subject.
My dissertation research centered upon the development of adaptive strategies in the creation of twentieth and twenty-first century stage versions of classical Japanese Nō drama. Using the models established by Yukio Mishima in his composition of nine “modern Nō plays” in the 1950s and 1960s, I explore both direct and indirect dramatic adaptations of the Nō form, including American Nō dramas about the legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Elvis Presley, tracing the idea of what traces remain in the wake of the adaptation process, and whether they are the “essence” of the Nō, or possibly a cultural misinterpretation. While my dissertation concentrates primarily on the Nō form, my focus remains concerned with the critical interpretation and practical application of adaptation theory through the specific lens of the Nō. I have delivered numerous conference papers on this topic and am considering the publication of several articles derived from the body of my dissertation. Spurred on by my own professional production of four of Mishima’s “modern Nō,” my studies in Japanese theatre do encourage me to seek out further opportunities to study in various Nō workshops around the country, as well as to become artistically involved with companies like San Francisco’s Theatre of Yūgen that specialize in the contemporary reinvestigation of the Nō as a viable, dynamic theatrical form for today’s audiences.
Modern and contemporary adaptations of Greek myth and drama possess a special hold on my imagination as a scholar and artist. As a doctoral candidate, I taught a course on the subject matter (and routinely incorporate these modernizations as a supplement to classical texts in survey courses) and directed an award-winning production of Ellen McLaughlin’s Iphigenia and Other Daughters. I am in the process of writing an article about McLaughlin’s published and unpublished Greek adaptations, to be accompanied by an interview with the playwright.