Dramatic Adaptation Exercise

Dramatic Adaptation Exercise

  1. Select several scenes from Dracula that seem especially significant to the novel or to any of the themes you’d like to investigate (do your best to avoid scenes I’ve already treated extensively in class). If you’re stumped, you can try asking yourself about the “five portals” I’ve offered into Dracula (which scenes are the most horrific? the most erotic? and so on), but allow your intuition free rein here. Which passages stick with you?
  2. We’ll share our scenes during class and use your preferences to form small groups. Each group will handle a single scene (recall our conversations on what makes a scene). Now that we’re transitioning from novel to drama, Dracula–with its long history of adaptation for stage and screen–will serve as the raw material for your own adaptations.
  3. Once your groups have formed, excise your scenes from our digital text of the novel and post them in your collaborative space. Using your hypothes.is accounts, you and your teammates can now “mark up” your scene as you prepare it for adaptation.
  4. Identify a destination medium. In other words, what sort of dramatic work will your adapted scene serve? Options include a stage play, film, teleplay, web series, commercial, video game, digital app, or any other “dramatic” adaptation you can imagine. We obviously aren’t adapting the entire novel, so think about your scene as a small section of a larger, imaginary whole.
  5. Your annotations should address a few questions: What can be changed? How? What needs to remain the same? Why? Think back to the sample scene I offered in class. What’s essential about your scene? What does it contribute to the narrative as a whole?
  6. Throughout this process, you’ll need to bear in mind (and, ultimately, to account for) the elements of drama we’ve already covered during our discussions of The Seagull and The Pillowman: the dramatis personae, setting, directions, speech, effects, and property list.
  7. Each group will be responsible for sharing in stages:
    1. Tell us about your scene and the format for which you’re adapting it (big-budget Hollywood film, off-Broadway play, episode in a YouTube web series, level in a video game, etc.).
    2. Explain to the rest of the class what you’re changing, what you’re keeping the same, and why.
    3. Decide on the best way to present your vision to the rest of us. This could involve storyboarding a television spot, drafting a film treatment, writing a script, producing a video, or acting out your scene. Use the tools available through our website, draw on the diverse talents in our class, and always feel free to ask for help.


  1. Adrian, this was a lot of fun to read and began to spark some ideas for some of my teaching. I know you may not have designed this with online teaching in mind, but I’m curious how you’d anticipate students submitting the final product (the choices in 7C) in the distance learning format.

  2. What a wonderful assignment. I really like how this brings in group work as well as multimodal work. To Katherine’s comment about 7C, it seems to me that the only thing that would change with regard to distance learning would be that any video or acting out may have to be done via a group video conference system such as Zoom or BB Collaborate.

    As a side note, since you are using Dracula, you may be interested to know that I have a friend who has written a series of books about an African-American vampire, and he won several awards in the 2019 African-American Literary Awards. He was a guest speaker for one of my classes on zoom, and they really enjoyed it. In case you’re interested in having a look, here is his website: https://brookwaterscurse.com/steven-van-patten/

    This is a marvelous assignment. I’m sure your students get a lot out of doing this.

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