A couple of weeks ago in my playwriting class, we were assigned to adapt something, be it a short story, movie, poem, or song lyric, for the stage. It was an excercise in cutting, twisting, and shaping something already in existence into a form that would be acceptable on stage for a live performance. I picked my own short story, “Strangers,” (first published on WritingRaw.com) and thought for sure that I would butcher it. After all, who knows better than the author what the story is trying to convey? Apparently, I didn’t.
Over-all, I am shocked at the twist this story took on the stage. As a short story, “Strangers” reads like a piece of pop fiction. Not that I have anything against pop fiction; I happen to love it. But it wasn’t conveying the larger message that I had wanted it to. It’s a neat story because so many people can relate, although I have to admit, as the author I am slightly bias, as it is based on real people. I’m in love with this story because it has so much to do with forgiveness, and acceptance, even though the original didn’t quite come across that way.
In the adaptation, I added a few characters, changed some story, and wow, does it come across differently! This story was meant for the stage. It’s so much more real, the thoughts are sincere, and I believe it speaks better than the original story ever did. I’m very happy with the adaptation. I’m nostalgic for the feelings that it has dealt with for so long. It’s bittersweet. The adaptation has given me closure on a real event, but I miss those private moments now that I’ve shared them.
All together, I can’t explain how happy it makes me that I took the chance on this. A few years ago, I would never have thought to write a paragraph, let alone a short story or play. I would not have believed that I would be good at something. I wouldn’t have believed in me. I’ve adapted. I’ve adapted from the girl who hung out in bars, searching for that feeling that was going to stop the fire inside. I used to try to drown that flame, not knowing that the burning was a desire to free the creative side of me. Who knew that a bar fly could turn straight-A student? Who knew that this little girl that had been kicked so many times could be a writer?
One person knew, and it’s to him that I dedicate the final version of Strangers, now adapted for the stage. I will eventually produce this play, and the printed version will read, “Trace, you picked me up out of the gutter, and handed me back my life even though we didn’t stay in touch. I want you to know it matters. After all this time, it still matters.”
Keep on writing!