26th Feb 2014 3:30pm-4:30pm
Adapting Beowulf: Text, History and Dramatic Form
Dr Craig Jordan-Baker (Open University)In recent years, the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, has attracted much artistic attention in the form of several films Zemeckis (2007), Gunnarsson (2005) an opera Taylor (2006) and book adaptations, Stern (2013), Hinds (2007). This attention suggests not only the thematic and dramatic richness of the poem, but also indicates a wider desire by contemporary artists to investigate and maintain a relationship with canonical texts.
In this paper, I discuss how the adaptation of well-known source material in the context of a multi-disciplinary dramatic production provides a way of considering and re-evaluating the interrelationship between text, textual history and dramatic form. To do this, I use the example of my recent adaptation of Beowulf, produced by Barely Human Puppets. This stage adaptation combined puppetry, poetry and music to re-tell and re-focus the tale for a modern audience.
My approach to the subject will be both as an academic and writer and the paper will move in three stages. Firstly, I offer reading of Beowulf as a poetic text; of its themes, context and characters. Here, I point to the inter and intra-textual awareness of the poem that stresses art and art-making as a fundamental aspect of humanity and human experience. This motivates the second stage, where I consider the relationship between my reading of Beowulf and the practical and theoretical issues which influenced my adaptation. Lastly, I gather my arguments to discuss the relationship between the humanities within the current climate of HE. I argue that this production of Beowulf represents an act of interdisciplinarity that recognises the need for literary theory, history, creative writing and dramatic practice to be considered deeply and abidingly relevant to one another.
If you missed this event, you can watch the full proceedings in the playlist below and view the accompanying presentation slides here