Between text and stage: the theatrical adaptations of J.M. Coetzee’s Foe
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Several of J.M. Coetzee’s novels have been adapted successfully for the stage, both as theatrical and operatic versions, but these adaptations have not received much critical attention. This article examines the ways in which Peter Glazer and Mark Wheatley have adapted Coetzee’s novel Foe (1986), resulting in two different and distinct stage productions, performed in the US and the UK respectively. In order to explore the complex relationship between the published text and the play versions, the article will ground itself in theories of adaptation, drawing extensively on work by Linda Hutcheon and Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo. One of the key ideas in adaptation theory is that adaptive fidelity to the source text is neither possible nor desirable, but that adaptation is a more complex, multi-layered intertextual and intermedial interplay of fictional material. The article discusses the two play scripts and analyses the adaptive choices which underpin them and how these structure their meaning-making. Finally, the article also suggests that these scripts can be used to throw more light on Coetzee’s enigmatic novel.