"singularly adapted to our needs" [MISS]
In March of this year I auditioned for a local production of "The Day the Earth Stood Still." During auditions I overheard a comment by the artistic director that they were looking to do a production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but that they did not have a script yet. Being the life-long Holmes fanatic I am, I boldly (foolishly?) volunteered to adapt the script for the Post-Meridian Radio Players. The major caveat was that I had to bring the script in under an hour.
"If I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all." - A Study in Scarlet
I didn't know what I was in for.
First thing we did was transcribe a 1977 production done for the CBS Radio Mystery Theatre. This was to be my starting point. If you've ever heard this version it's heavily abridged, with several major sequences and characters cut out. The dialog is also, for lack of a better word, paraphrased.
To fix the paraphrasing problem we subsequently transcribed every scrap of dialog from the original novel into a basic radio script.
With these two scripts in hand I set out to marry them together. My goals were as follows:
- To restore as much original Doyle dialog as possible.
- To restore the missing sequences of the cab-chase in London and the Laura Lyons character.
- Get it down under an hour. The producer told me, and I quote, "45 minutes would be best."
I worked on my script for the better part of a month during rehearsals for "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (I scored a small part in that show) and it came in at 46 manuscript pages. I thought I was in good shape, but the last step was the formatting. If you've ever done a radio script before they follow a standard manuscript format that allows you to estimate the length of your show with each page equaling a minute of performance time. I inserted my script into the template, let it format, and then counted the pages.
When the script came in at 117 pages total, well. My response can't be repeated on this blog.
I had three weeks to get the script into fighting shape before auditions, so I began frantically cutting. Every night I would go over the script looking for more that could be eliminated while keeping my original goals intact. The boy seen going out to the stone-huts? Gone. The crazy neighbor who spies one everyone with a telescope? Eliminated. Holmes' lengthy summation of the case in the final chapter? Condensed. Many scenes that were originally two became one. I honestly didn't think I'd make it.
But I did, and I'd like to think I did Sir Arthur proud.
The Hound of the Baskervilles opens this weekend (click through for more info), July 27th and 28th, at Responsible Grace at 204 Elm Street in Somerville, MA (just outside of Boston). Tickets are $15 / $12 for students & seniors, and you can reserve tickets by clicking here. We're part of the Summer Radio Mystery Theatre, along with productions of 'Gracie Takes Up Crime-Solving' and 'Sorry, Wrong Number.' Our final running time? Just over 50 minutes.
Come see the show if you can. I'll be playing Clayton the cab driver, so feel free to say hi after the show. And be sure to mention that you read about the show on I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.
[Editor's note: the above was submitted by Jeremy Holstein from the Post-Meridian Radio Players]