Theatrical adaptation is the sincerest form of flattery | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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Theatrical adaptation is the sincerest form of flattery

City Lit Theater presents short dramatic takes on eight nondramatic works at its sixth annual Art of Adaptation Festival.


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City Lit Theater's sixth annual Art of Adaptation Festival boasts eight short dramatic takes on nondramatic material ranging from Poe to Steinbeck. Four of the plays receive stagings on Friday and four on Saturday; Sunday offers the opportunity to see 'em all.

On the first day, Dan Jackson applies the Greek myth of a fearsome man-bull to Steinbeck's story of a hapless man-child in Of Mice and Minotaurs. Mark Mason remakes both an Edna St. Vincent Millay volume and a portentous issue of Life magazine—November 22, 1963­—into Miss Moore's Senior Drama Class Presents Their Annual "Tribute to American Poetry" Pre-Thanksgiving Recital, 1963. Gerald McDermott's children's book Musicians of the Sun, adapted here by Rebecca Grossman, is itself adapted from an Aztec myth explaining how music came to earth. And Nick Cardiff reimagines Edgar Allan Poe's For Annie, in which a dying narrator addresses the love of his life.

In the second set, Aaron Henrickson and Lane Flores offer a fresh version of an ageless story with their rendition of J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy. Joseph Stearns takes on Button Button, a short story by Richard Matheson that's been adapted before—into a Twilight Zone episode. In it, a poor couple receive a mysterious box with a button on it; they come to learn that pressing it will lift them from poverty but result in a stranger's death. Marianne Kallen adapts Reasonable Terms, a short story by Hannah Tinti about three giraffes that go on strike at the zoo, and Bret Angelos's The Savage Passengers is based on the memoirs and remembrances of the theologian James Freeman Clarke, who was pals with Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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