This exercise is based on the play Billionaire Boy but could apply to other plays or texts.
Adapt a piece of automatic writing into a character monologue
Adaptation is the process where something evolves, or changes over time, into something else. In Literary Adaptation a writer might change a work from one genre to another so that it can be experienced in a new way. In the case of Billionaire Boy the book, originally written by David Walliams, was adapted into a play by Maryam Master and CDP Theatre Producers, and performed on a stage at Sydney Opera House. It is a story about a boy called Joe Spud who has all the money any kid could ever want. The story tracks his adventures as her learns that money can’t buy happiness. He makes real friends, battles bullies and comes to terms with his father.
In this activity you will have an opportunity to explore a creative tool called Automatic Writing in order to generate a short piece of text, and then adapt it into a simple script for a performance piece.
“It's strange how sometimes you can be so happy it goes all the way round to sadness.”
David Walliams, Billionaire Boy
Exercise details: Automatic Writing
Automatic writing is a subconscious process that disrupts your intention as a writer. It is like pouring your brain onto the page in front of you and sifting through the scribbled debris to find meaning and relevance. Writers and artists often do this before beginning a new work to uncover ideas, memories and feelings that can inspire new projects.
Remove everything from your desk except for a pen and paper. Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin writing without censoring your stream of consciousness. Think about the themes from Billionaire Boy and begin your first sentence with ‘I value….’ Or ‘Money is less important than…’.
1. Write silently. 2. Write fast. 3. Don’t stop.
After 5 minutes take a moment to read through your stream of consciousness and underline words and sentences that are interesting, unusual or meaningful to you. Collect the words onto the left hand side of a separate page to make a list poem.
Adapt to script
Read your writing again and see if you can find the presence of a character in your words? Is there a description that makes you think of a particular setting or a location. How about an object, direction, colour, sound or sense that could become the focus or title of a new work? Using your Automatic Writing as inspiration adapt your words to create a short monologue.
Write a short piece of dialogue for this character using as many of the words you collected.
Ensure you monologue has a strong character voice. What does your character want? Is your character fighting against something inside of them or outside of them.
Sit in a circle as a group and take turns reading your monologues to each other putting the character voice and performance into the meaning of the words. Perform your monologue even though you are sitting down.
After everyone has performed, are there any obvious links between the performances? Could some of the characters be in the same play? Discuss the possibilities.