Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Seeing Double: The Process of Script Adaptation between Theatre and Film

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posted on 2021-11-14, 02:27 authored by McGibbon, Gavin Rodney

This thesis examines the adaptation of stage plays to cinema, and of films to theatre. The creative component of the thesis consists of my full-length play script Hamlet Dies At The End, and the script of its feature film adaptation (Song’s End), plus material from my film script Roy Jiminton and the script of its adaptation to theatre.  The critical component of this thesis examines seven stage-to-film adaptations and four film-to-stage adaptations, in order to illustrate the distinctions between writing for the two different mediums and to suggest principles to aid scriptwriters in adapting material between theatre and film.  The thesis concludes with discussion of the decisions I made when adapting my own scripts.  This thesis argues that to successfully adapt play or film scripts from one medium to the other, the adaptor must be willing to incorporate significant change in order to effectively ‘adapt’. Adaptations that merely transpose from the stage onto the screen, or vice versa, fail to engage with their new medium.  This thesis also proposes a set of adaptation principles for script adaptors.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Creative Writing

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

International Institute of Modern Letters


Duncum, Ken; O'Donnell, David