Thornton Wilder’s Ordinary Town: An Adaptation Case Study
|Keywords:||桑頓;懷爾德;劇場;小鎮;改編;劇本;電影;疏離;Thornton;Wilder;Theatre;Our Town;Adaptation;Screenplay;Film;Alienation||Issue Date:||2015||Abstract:||
桑頓懷爾德（1897-1975）是跨了兩個文類的普立茲獎得主，分別是小說類1927年的《聖路易里之橋》——義大利教士在秘魯的故事，以及劇本1938年的《小鎮》——背景在新英格蘭，以及1942年的《九死一生》——背景是在冰河時期的紐澤西，這樣弔詭的組合。學者們認為懷爾德的作品中充滿人文主義元素，在戰爭時期肯定著某些價值。他的《小鎮》被認為是以平凡生活中的普世價值與世界連接。本論文不傾向連結感的解讀，而是透過後人類、疏離現象來詮釋懷爾德，進而理解他所謂的『平凡』。 第一章透過懷爾德的書信探討他人生中的連結與疏離關係。懷爾德是他的時代中優秀作家之一，其中包括了小說家恩尼斯特海明威以及史考特費滋傑羅。學者認為身為人文主義者的懷爾德跟悲觀地面對世界大戰的失落一代作家不同。但，透過書信的檢視發現，懷爾德雖然不失落，但是是疏離的。這樣的定位讓他能夠透過疏離的角度探討人生的意義。 第二章以懷爾德的改編作家身份出發。遠離美國的懷爾德從古代文明中尋找改編元素。他對神話特別有興趣。他認為，神話是一種能夠一直被說下去的文體。但，不像一般傳統神話以英雄或重要的人物為題，懷爾德的神話則是為了那些在歷史的流動中被疏離的『不重要』的人物而寫的。為了他的凡夫俗子人物，懷爾德需要一個不受時間束縛的舞台，一個極簡主義的舞台，讓這些被困在寫實舞台中特定時間點的人物重獲自由。 第三章檢視《小鎮》中的疏離效應。這部劇本是人生階段的縮影。第一幕一開始是小鎮平凡的一天。艾蜜莉與喬治在第二幕結為連理。最後一幕，艾蜜莉死於難產。這部劇是由『舞台監督』這個角色當旁白。學者認為舞台監督這個角色打破了第四牆並與觀眾連結。但，他並不是真的跟觀眾互動，而是表演著連結的假象。這樣連結的假象也出現在小鎮人民的關係裡。小鎮人民按照著社會期望在過日子。舞台監督則是引導著他們表演『平凡的行為』，但，一旦鎮民的台詞偏離了期待的平凡，舞台監督會打斷他們的對白。在這樣極簡主義的舞台中，鎮民能夠清楚地看到對方，但依然被隱形的平凡疏離了。 第四章分析《小鎮》的改編電影劇本。1939年，懷爾德接受了製片索雷瑟的請求，並答應當《小鎮》劇本改編的顧問。極簡主義的舞台是原作中重要的元素，但電影劇本卻是視覺化的語言，必須要有精確的背景設定。這樣的根本性媒體差異卻更能讓觀眾了解懷爾德所謂的平凡小鎮。在改編的過程中，懷爾德認為雷瑟改變的一些場景無法重現他原作的想法。兩人的爭論結果顯示出懷爾德的平凡代表著被社會的期望所疏離的每個人。 第五章討論的是在1940年上映的《小鎮》電影作品。視覺的電影語言改變了原著的意義。鏡頭變成了電影的旁白。電影中，窗戶與框架比喻著禁錮人民的社會期待。儘管視覺化無法完全呈現原著中隱形的壓迫感，視覺的比喻卻也解釋了原著中難以呈現的平凡感。 結論：懷爾德是在美國文學中被疏離的作家。這樣的狀態讓他能夠去發現並改編外國的元素。與他同世代的作家相比，懷爾德並沒有對人性失去信心，而是去質問這無形的敵人——狡猾的平凡。
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was a Pulitzer Prize winner in two genres for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), a story about an Italian priest in Peru, and for the play Our Town (1938), which he set in New England, and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), which was bizarrely set in Ice Age New Jersey. Scholars recognize the Humanistic elements in Wilder’s works, which affirm certain values during the wartime. His stage play Our Town, is considered as a work that connects the world with a universal value of ordinary lives. Instead of praising the connectedness, this dissertation aims to offer a Post-Humanistic, alienation reading of Wilder to find out his sense of the “ordinary.” Chapter One investigates Wilder’s letters to find out his connectedness and alienation in his life. Wilder was one of the best writers of his generation, which included the novelist Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald. Scholars read Wilder as a Humanist and considered that Wilder was distinguished from the Lost Generation writers, who pessimistically responded to the world war. Yet, through the investigation of their letters, Wilder was not lost but alienated, which enabled him to pursue the meditation on life from the perspective of alienation. Chapter Two reads Wilder as an adaptor. Being alienated from his America, Wilder adapts from ancient civilization for his works. He was interested in myth, which he considered to be a form that is continuously told. Yet, unlike traditional myths, which are about heroes or significant people, Wilder’s myths are written for the insignificant ordinaries that are alienated in the flow of history. In order to create a timeless stage for the stories of his insignificant characters to be told, he creates a minimalistic staging, which frees the characters from the realistic, confined moment. Chapter Three examines the alienation effect in Our Town. The play is a miniature of the course of life. It begins with an ordinary day in the town in the first act. Emily and George get married in the second act. Emily dies during childbirth in the last act. The Stage Manager, a character, narrates the play. Scholars understand the Stage Manager breaking the fourth wall and connecting to the audience. However, he does not really interact with the audience, but performs artificial connection. This artificial connection prevails in the relationship of the townspeople as well. The townspeople follow the expectation set by the society. The Stage Manager directs the scenes of these “ordinary behaviors,” but when the townspeople’s dialogues stray from expectation, the Stage Manager interrupts them. On a minimalistic stage, the townspeople are allowed to see each other, but they are alienated from each other by the invisible ordinariness. Chapter Four analyzes the screenplay adaptation of Our Town. In 1939, Wilder accepted the request from a film producer Sol Lesser, who asked for consultation for adapting Our Town into a screenplay. Minimalism is essential for the original stage play, but the screenplay is visualized language, with specific scenery. These fundamental media differences provide insights for a better understanding of Wilder’s ordinary town. In the process of adaptation, Wilder argued with Lesser for the scenes that could not represent his idea. Based on their arguments, this chapter concludes that Wilder’s ordinary is the social expectation that alienates the individuals. Chapter Five discusses the film production of Our Town, which was premiered in 1940. The visualized film language changes the message of the play. The camera narrates the film. The windows and frames become the metaphor for the social expectations that confines people. Although the visualization could not fully represent the literal invisibility of the oppression, the visible metaphor actually helps to understand the inaccessible ordinariness in the original play. In conclusion: Thornton Wilder is an alienated writer in American literature. This condition allows him to discover and adapts the foreign sources. In comparison with his contemporary writers, instead of losing faith in humanity, Wilder poses questions against the invisible enemy – the insidious ordinariness.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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