Adaptation in Stage and Screen Writing


This intensive two-day creative writing course will explore key elements of designing and writing original drama for stage, screen or radio that is created through adapting and dramatizing two key types of source material. The writing and producing of dramatized adaptations is a key and exciting part of both  the theatre and TV / film industries.

The first day will look at how to use story design and characterisation to create drama from factual - historical, contemporary news, life stories, etc -  source material. As well as exploring the mechanics of successful writing for performance, we will consider how to determine the balance between ‘creating a good story’ and telling a ‘truthful’ one.  On the second day we will further investigate, then practise, the key skills needed to dramatize stories that are adapted from other literary forms. What challenges and opportunities, for example, does the writer face when taking a work of prose fiction and turning it into a script for performance?

Each day will contain a mix of activities: input from the tutor, reading script extracts and watching TV and film clips for analysis, small group plot devising, solo writing and whole group discussion and peer critiquing activities.

This weekend aims to inspire anyone who has ever said ‘that story, that event, that moment in history would make a great film, or play’.

Programme details

SATURDAY 6 June 2020

9.45am            Registration

10.00am          Source material  - ‘It may be real, but it has to appeal.’ 

11.15am            Coffee/tea

11.45am            Story design, adapting real life events; time and action.  Genre: meeting and subverting audience expectations.

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            Characterisation: identity versus fiction, ‘what’s my motivation?’                       

3.15pm            Tea/coffee

3.45pm            Building a cast.                       

5.00pm           Course disperses


SUNDAY 7 June 2020


9.45am            Reconvene and feedback – overnight thoughts

10.00am          Dialogue: finding compelling voices through evidence and imagination                        

11.15am            Coffee/tea

11.45am            Dialogue: group and solo writing activities                        

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            Identifying stories with potential for dramatization: what to change and what to keep.                     

3.15pm            Tea/coffee

3.45pm            Matching the story being told to the way of telling, practical, production considerations. Plenary.                       

5.00pm           Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition (includes coffee/tea) £155.00
Baguette lunch (both days) £10.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Mr Shaun McCarthy


Shaun McCarthy is a professional writer of stage plays and book and lyrics for musicals. He has had 13 stage plays professionally produced. He was lyricist on Tamasha Theatre’s Bollywood musical ’14 Songs, 2 Weddings and a Funeral’ and wrote the book on the jukebox musical ‘Scrumpy and Western’. He teaches at Oxford and at the University of the West of England. He is currently writing and producing a play with music (16th century church music and motets!) to be performed in a remote castello in Southern Italy; and a re-set of Strindberg’s Miss Julie (no music!) to Oxford, 1963.


Dr Tara Stubbs

Director of Studies

Dr Tara Stubbs is an Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing at OUDCE, and a Fellow of Kellogg College Oxford. For 2017–2020 she is the Academic Programme Director of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford. Her first book was American Literature and Irish Culture, 1910–1955 (2013), which was re-issued in paperback in 2017. Her interests include American and Irish literature, modernism and poetry, and she has published widely in these fields. In 2017 she co-edited the essay collection Navigating the Transnational in Modern American Literature and Culture (2017), and her second monograph, due to be published in 2020, is The Modern Irish Sonnet: Revision and Rebellion.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but depending on availability, it may be possible to stay at Rewley House on Friday and / or Saturday night.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.