SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.60 issue1The triumph of the silver screen: Christiaan Olwagen's film adaptation of The SeagullMax-Neef and the structural vulnerability of day labourers in Mbombela and Emalahleni, South Africa author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


NEL, Alma  and  DU PREEZ, Petrus. "Who is speaking here?" The role of the adapter in adapting a novel into a youth theatre production that includes cultural and geographical translocations. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.1, pp.91-107. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article examines the adaptation process of the novel, Dis ek, Anna by Anchien Troskie (the nom de plume of Elbe Lötter), into a youth drama, titled Dis ek, Annatjie. This youth drama was performed by high school learners under the direction of a professional theatre maker. The production was performed at a youth theatre competition that restricted the length of the play to 45 minutes. In the adaptation process, choices had to be made regarding the inclusion of narrative elements in the stage adaptation, since a high fidelity adaptation of the novel would be impractical and unnecessary for the stage version. Apart from the time restrictions of the competition, other restrictions also play a part in the way in which a work is adapted and created. Insufficient funding, or the lack thereof, is another restricting factor and forced the theatre makers to adapt the work in a more symbolic mode or representational style. The adapter has to be aware of her position in this process where various elements, such as the change in genre, the practicality of staging and the actors'ability, and the reduction of the storylines of the original novel, are combined in the adaptation to help to shape the final text. Since the work was not a mere reduction but also entailed other changes in the context of the target text, such as cultural, linguistic, and geographical changes, the adaptation also required a revision of the geographic and cultural milieu. Here the sociopolitical issues, racial and cultural codes, as well as the socioeconomic codes had to be changed from a white Bloemfontein suburb to a coloured Wellington society. The article examines these elements in the adaptation by providing various examples. The code changes from standard Afrikaans into Cape Afrikaans are explored as cultural identifiers ofthe target audience and performers. In order to increase the relevance of the story for the learners, cultural adaptations (with language as a central marker of the adaptation) were made and the geographic and social circumstances of the learners were also incorporated into the new rendition. The position of the adapter and director is problematised in the article, since it differs from the context of the learners that took part in the process. Despite a vibrant youth theatre culture in the country, there is a lacuna in research on contemporary South African youth theatre. A possible reason for this gap in research is the lack of published texts aimed at South African youth theatre. In the few existing texts one can identify certain themes and tendencies especially in the Afrikaans youth theatre history - which include social problems such as divorce, AIDS, teenage pregnancies, and drug abuse. The new adaptation added child rape to this list and transposed the events from a middle-class white family in Bloemfontein, to a coloured community in Wellington. Adaptation can then be viewed as a cultural production process and the adaptation should also be judged as an independent work. A danger of this process of adaptation is that the work can be seen as an unfair cultural appropriation where the adapter is not a member of the target culture. It is therefore necessary, and more so within a high school context, to make use of a collaborative theatre-making process in order to enable participants to take ownership of the work. Findings from the practice-orientated research include that a participatory process between the theatre maker and the participating learners is crucial in the adaptation and production processes. The geographic and cultural changes incorporated into the adaptation created a space where the learners could address issues of identity; whilst the themes in the play also addressed relevant social issues linked to the context of both learners and audience. These conclusions were only possible because the adaptation process was not individually driven, but it included the knowledge and needs of the learners. The collaborative nature of the work ensured a good reception with the audience as well as a sense of authenticity of the new play, which contributed to the credibility of the adaptation.

Keywords : adaptation theory; youth theatre; Dis ek; Anna; Anchien Troskie; Elbe Lötter; geographic changes; language variation in Afrikaans theatre; language changes; cultural appropriation; collaborative theatre-making processes.

        · abstract in Afrikaans     · text in Afrikaans     · Afrikaans ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License