I originally began to write this update as to progress on our musical stage adaptation of Castle Gillian with a brief statement intimating that little progress has been made on this project for over a year but, without giving any informed reason as to why this is the case.
Then, I thought, this was a cop-out in terms of not providing an adequate explanation since we are aware that there is a growing level of interest in this work.
So, what is the cause of these incessant delays?
The issue is that we have, so far, failed to develop an adequate treatment of how the stage adaptation should be shaped to transfer a rich and complex narrative; as exists in the novel, to what invevitably has to be a leaner, less complex version for the stage.
In the case of musicals, one of the key questions that has to be answered at the outset is, “whose story is it that we are re-telling?” We have gone back and forwards on this – over and over again – trying to determine from which character perspective we will tell the story.
Straight forward you would think but, no, I’m afraid it isn’t.
Yes, we could do that, but that creates stage storytelling problems that our beloved novelist doesn’t have to contend with, as he can have his character explain plot and action to the reader simultaneously along with scene setting and dialogue.
This is invariably frought with problems with live theatre. Novels aren’t plays, and in novels characters don’t stop the action and plot development by breaking into song!
OK then, perhaps we could tell the story from Sylvia’s perspective or from Mary’s or Robin’s or even from one of the gypsy (travellers) perspective. Or perhaps, none of these?
And that is where we have been until just recently when we finally cracked the way forward.
So, we’re back and the wheels are moving. It’s really great news.
Oh, and the photo of Castle Gillian novel copies above? I took this in Inverness, Scotland, the other day. The only bookstore in the world that I have ever come across with a copy of literally every novel Maurice Walsh ever wrote. An Aladdin’s cave of wonder!