First things first: I’m totally crazy. In a way, I just love doing ludicrously ambitious things and go way over the top while doing that. When I was in High School, it was really only the weird decisions of the teacher in charge that ruined our play in theatre course, but our basic idea to not only play Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, but also Goethe’s Iphigenia in Tauris and then put the entire Troyan War in between it was so insane, it was totally my taste.
Ever since I played in abovementioned insanity, I’m playing with the thought that once I’ve properly settled in as a teacher, I want to join or lead a theatre club just for the sake of doing absurdly ambitious plays like this and doing it right. Up until now I’ve only played with the thought of adapting “A Song of Ice and Fire”, each book into one play. Just to show that stupid overrated edgefest “Game of Thrones” the finger by showing that you can adapt the core themes of the story with a non-existant budget and not end up with polar opposites as characters. I’m still fairly certain that distilling those books into stage plays is totally feasable and that I’m gonna make that happen someday.
But today… I’ve spent my way back home from work musing about even more ludicrous possibilities. I love writing. I love theatre. I love Umineko. And I love shoving Umineko down other people’s throats. So why not combine all of these things by adapting Umineko as a stage play?
There are even a few advantages that Umineko has:
- the music for scene transitions and for emphasizing certain developments kinda falls into your lap
- even if you scratch cosplay (and I naturally intend to avoid cosplay, especially when it comes to the demon characters - I will not go down as the teacher who made his students wear suspender belts, obviously!), at least the human characters can easily get coded by taking clues from their VN appearance
- the small size of the setting with just a limited number of backgrounds
Of course there are several main disadvantages that make Umineko damn hard to adapt into any media that is not written down:
- truth battles
- magic scenes in general and specific cases of unreliable narration
- the size of the cast
- the ludicrous size of the story itself
Some of those I can at least limit by using simple things I have already used in my draft of the A Song of Ice and Fire adaptation. Fantasy scenes can be alluded to by shadow play and flashing spotlights, just let characters narrate what happens. The size of cast can be dealt with by letting your pupils play several roles at once. Heck, in that Iphigenia example above each of us played three roles. This is surprisingly easy.
This leaves two issues remaining: Truth Battles and how to cut down the story.
For truth battles… I’m honestly thinking that the simplest way to deal with that is putting a beamer with a prepared animation in front of the stage and just project the words onto a black screen behind the characters whenever they are spoken. Might look silly, but at the moment I don’t have any better idea.
Now for the cuts in the story. As I said above, I would have cut up “A Song of Ice and Fire” into one play per book, which means 7 plays (if GRRM ever finishes, that is) and I’d have to play a reminder of what had happened previously in front of each play for those who haven’t seen the ones that came before it (which will be quite a few, since the people coming to High School theatre are mostly the parents of the actors and the actors will likely change in between the plays). For Umineko, using the same tactic would mean 8 plays. Thing is, since barely anyone in the audience will see all of them, I’m afraid that the effort will be wasted no matter what I do. Adapting detective stories into stage plays seems quite common here and putting our project up as a deconstruction of that would certainly peak some interest, but Umineko is too damn large for a faithful adaptation to let everyone keep all the clues to solve it on their own. Every play would have to be able to stand on its own, without much interlocking with the previous or the follwing plays.
There is only one other way I see right now to salvage the size issue: Completely dropping the main story of Umineko and instead make it a spin-off kind of thing. Just making it a straight-forward murder mystery like episode 1, expand the tea party into a proper logic duel and call it a day. Therefore the atmosphere and narrative devices of Umineko can be used, I have more leeway to write an original story around it, but I don’t need to adapt the entire thing. But… I don’t think that’s what I want to do. Like I said, I’m crazy. I want to adapt freaking Umineko! Anything else would be just giving up!
What do you think, everyone? Any hurdles or solutions I have forgotten?