Friday, July 07, 2006

Surviving the Applewhites

Meet the cast for the Columbus Children's Theater reading of the stage adaptation of Stephanie Tolan's novel Surviving the Applewhites.

I was able to attend the reading before I went on vacation. The play isn't finalized so the purpose of the reading was to get the reaction and advice of local people from the theater world. Katherine Paterson and Stephanie Tolan are working on the script. Can you spot them in the photo with the cast?

I was curious to see how they would handle certain aspects of the book, most notably how they would handle swearing. One of the main characters, Jake, is a juvenile delinquent with colorful language, but the novel never actually uses any swear words it just says that Jake swears or uses parrots words (the parrot in novel also swears). In the stage adaptation Jake never uses actual swear words either, he just says "bleep!" in a high pitch. I think kids will think it's funny, but it got a bit distracting after awhile.

I wondered how true to the novel the play would be since the novel's author was writing the script. The beginning was different; the characters are supposed to walk out of a large copy of the book on stage and then they argue about who the main character of the book really is and begin the story (a clever way for Tolan to remind the audience that if they like the play it's based on a book and they should go buy it). From there on most of the dialogue is straight out of the novel until the end when the actors summarize a lot of what happens instead of adding a lot of characters and staging the play that takes place within the play.

It was an interesting process to watch and I wanted to ask why Tolan chose to leave certain things out like the Guru and one of the uncles, but not a single person raised their hand during the questions and answer period, and I wasn't brave enough to start.

Afterwards I got to meet Stephanie Tolan and Katherine Paterson, and they were both as nice as I imagined them. I meant to ask Katherine Paterson about the movie adaptation of Bridge to Terebithia, but I was too star-struck to do anything but try to keep my mouth from hanging open.

There was another author sitting with Stephanie Tolan and Katherine Paterson on the first row, one of the professors who was present at my thesis defense, Janet Hickman. I have to admit that the most embarrassing moment of the evening was when she asked me what great things I've accomplished since graduation. After graduate school I planned to work as an editor in children's publishing, but then I was surprised when my husband was assigned to do his residency after medical schoool here in Columbus so I'm still working in commercial real estate as a Marketing Manger. At my thesis defense Dr. Hickman and Dr. Keifer told me that they would be happy to help me set up interviews in New York for publishing positions, but they thought I should be a writer. Now here I am, a year later I run into Dr. Hickman and what great things have I accomplished? Uh . . . I joined SCBWI, I still lead the children's literature book club, and I'm in the middle of two horrid rough drafts that seem to be going nowhere, and I'm still working in commercial real estate. Of course Dr. Hickman was totally nice about it and said she understood that everyone has to pay their bills, but I'm sure I left with burning cheeks.

1 comment:

Melinda said...

Okay, I am beyond jealous that you met Katherine Paterson. Jacob Have I Loved is one of those books that I can read over and over. A well-written young adult novel is a beautiful thing!