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Creative Adaptation of Henry James "The Turn of the Screw"

For our A2 devised practical performance, we decided to portray our own Creative Adaptation of Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the Screw’. As a group we were eager to portray the gothic theme, due to its extreme scope for imagination. We knew that to do a Creative Adaptation, we needed a storyline which had particularly strong themes which were recognizable to an audience. Due to the eerie and ghostly themes within ‘The Turn of the Screw’ we decided it would be perfect for our theatre project.

Although, as this was a Creative Adaptation we were able to incorporate our own ideas into the plot in order to provide our own twist on the story, making our production original and innovative. Since all of us had read the novel, we were all particularly enthusiastic about performing it, allowing us to be motivated further for the play’s progression.

We each went home and researched different films, plays and novels which had a gothic theme running throughout them.

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For my research, I looked up many other adaptations of James’ ‘The Turn of the Screw’. I was particularly taken by Jack Clayton’s portrayal in his film ‘The Innocents’. I was influenced by his use of music and sound effects within the film, which I felt conjured the atmosphere presented in the novel perfectly, and it was then that I suggested we use one of the film’s songs, ‘Willow Waly’ to help create our eerie atmosphere.

Since we’d all previously seen the intensely scary performance of ‘The Woman in Black’ and all been individually effected by it, we felt it suitable to incorporate their creating fear through lighting and sound rather than a large amount of props, as having many props could potentially hinder our performance.

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This gave us the idea of symbolism. We decided from there that every object and sound effect we use would have a symbolic meaning behind it. For example we will have a music box on stage which will be symbolic of corrupted innocence within the play.

This music box will crop up on stage whenever a characters’ innocence is in decline, with the accompaniment of an authentic music box tune, which will highlight this innocence through its childhood connotations. Researching other productions of the story, we found many performances done through ballet, for example, Salvatore Aiello’s interpretation in 2005 which through its imaginative dance methods influenced us to involve more movement sequences within our play. The movement sequence between Flora and Miles is a sequence which intends for the audience to feel as uncomfortable as possible. This will be through the ambiguity as to whether there is something more than a brother/sister relationship, between the children. We initially wanted to expand on this, however we felt it might stretch too far from the storyline, and so we left it for the audience to decide.

For our production, we had decided on many different intentions for the audience. We firstly wanted to provoke fear for our audience. This would be done through music, lighting and sound in order to create an eerie atmosphere throughout the entire play. Our reasons for provoking fear were that we wanted the audience to go on the same journey as the governess in the play, Ms Wallseat, who will be almost guiding the audience through her journey of discovering how secretive and creepy the maid and the children are towards her character. This leads onto our next dramatic intention, which involves the audience feeling particularly uncomfortable about the relationship between Miles, Flora and Ms Williams. The audience will be allowed to feel this discomfort through the fact that Ms Wallseat will be just as shocked by it, letting the audience know that the behaviour of the children and Ms Williams is unusual. Lastly, another dramatic intention was to portray the corruption of the innocent.

We decided that Flora, the youngest of all characters, would be the most corrupted in that being the youngest she is the easiest to influence. We wanted to convey the domination, particularly by Miles and Ms Williams, who are continuously putting ideas into Flora’s head, giving the audience the idea that Ms Williams and Miles are painting an in-genuine picture of Bly Hall, resulting in the audience questioning their motives within the play. Through these aims, the audience will get an idea of the disjointed and corrupted morals that exist within the Bly household, and will be just as struck with fear as the na�ve and young Ms Wallseat.

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Creative Adaptation of Henry James "The Turn of the Screw". (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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