An afternoon's workshop with the author Thomas Kilroy, discussing the adaptation process. Kilroy's version of the Seagull transposed Chekhov's play from a large Russian estate in 1895 to a Big House in the West of Ireland around 1880, when Parnell, the Land League, the Home Rule Movement and Celtic Literary Revival were all “coming to the boil” as an Irish Times article puts it. This adaptation is an example of how the adaptation process can result in a work of complete originality. In the case of his adaptation of German author Wedekind's Spring Awakening, Nora Butler has recently argued that Kilroy takes a play that, although radical in 1890, had lost much of its relevance for modern Irish audiences when first performed here in 1980 in the Grapevine Theatre, until Kilroy refracted it through the historical lens of abusive, sexually repressive, Catholic small-town Ireland in the 1950s. Although these two texts, then, have not been transposed to the present in Ireland, their newly inscribed relevance for modern audiences, according to Butler, has to do with the fact that Kilroy chooses target periods that are still open wounds today: Anglo-Irish historical and cultural intertwinings, and the oppressive milieu of John Charles McQuaid's Ireland, the traumas of which period are only now being faced by Ireland.
This workshop affords staff and students the opportunity to engage with a practitioner in the field of adaptation, asking about the precise process of rewriting classics from Russia and German for the modern (Irish) stage.