Writing Excuses Season 9.52: From the Page to the Stage

Allison W. Hill and C. Austin Hill joined us at the Out of Excuses Retreat to talk about turning A Night of Blacker Darkness, by Dan Wells, into a stage play. “From the page to the stage” is a thing that theater people actually say to describe this, so the process is one that has a lot of precedent behind it. We talk about the guiding principles behind adaptation, and then dive into the challenges that our guests face with this particular project.

(Note: We may be tweaking the audio on this episode in the future to remove the “Season 10” references right at the end. They’re confusing, and you don’t need that.)


Take a monster from pop culture, and write it with all of the traditional weaknesses, but with none of the strengths.

4 thoughts on “Writing Excuses Season 9.52: From the Page to the Stage”

  1. While listening to this I kept flashing back to the Film Adaptation class I took a little while back, specifically with the Princess Bride paper I had to write for it. While most people who’ve read that book and seen the movie consider it a faithful adaptation, it wasn’t until I went looking for every nitpicky detail that I realized that William Goldman did change a fair bit when adapting a novel into a screenplay. There was the obvious things like the Zoo of Death that got cut for budget reasons, but there were a surprising number of other things that must have been Goldman coming up with a better idea after the book was written and putting it in the movie (best example I can think of off the top of my head is the “did you say ‘I do’?” exchange between Wesley and Buttercup that never happened in the book).
    I feel like the “Facts” sequence in Night of Blacker Darkness would be comparable to the outer-level frame story of the Princess Bride book where Goldman makes commentary throughout the narrative about abridging S. Morgenstern’s version. Yes, both are absolutely brilliant parts of their respective books that add to the experience, but they should stay in the medium they belong to for very good reasons. And if someone sees Dan’s play before reading the book, that just means that there’ll be a pleasant surprise waiting for them when they get around to the reading part.

  2. The house lighting dims, there is a sudden scurrying as a few late people take their seats, and… the curtain rises, a world of tale and wonder appears before us, and an actor strides on-stage, into the spotlight, and it begins! IT’S A PLAY!

    While you are waiting for the darlings to be murdered, feel free to read all about it over here. A transcript, without stage directions or accent, just words…


    And, naturally, available in the archives, too.

  3. This is and will continue to be one of my favorite episodes, ever.

    Even if it may not be so very useful for me, since I ‘m not really interested in doing adaptations. (OK, I would love to redo the movie “The Silence Of The Lambs”, but I seriously doubt that I will ever be asked to write that script.)

    I listened to “Regency English in Southern Drawl”, aka “15:20 – 16:40”, about thirty times during the week. Thank you, Allison and Mary.

    I love how this episode is one of those with “object lesson” quality: The casters’ interaction has the dynamics and vividness, and also a certain “jumpiness”, that one would expect from a witty play. A couple of times, Dan recovers from a straying sentence without a hitch, like an Oscar Wilde character might do. And for something completely different, the way Howard asks about “ensuring the right emPHAsis is put on the correct SYLlable”is very cool.

    IMHO Howard does a great job moderating this cast. Was it a conscious decision to let him do that, because he’s the one without theater experience? If so, it worked really well.

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