English Literature / Drama GCSE: Adapting a Novel for Theatre

Playwright Simon Stephens explains the strategies he used in adapting the story of Mark Haddon’s much-loved novel into a script for his production at the National Theatre.

He discusses the structure of the novel, how Mark Haddon plays with chronology in the story and why.

We hear how Simon Stephens used the dialogue in the novel as a starting point for his script, and see examples of speech lifted directly from the novel used onstage.

He discusses the use of the character Siobhan as a narrator in the play, and we see footage of the relationship between Siobhan and Christopher.

This short film is from the BBC series, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: From Page to Stage, made in collaboration with the National Theatre.

It explores how Mark Haddon’s much-loved novel became a multi-award-winning theatre production.

Interviews with the playwright, director and cast and footage from both rehearsal and performance reveal the process of bringing the story alive on stage.

PLEASE NOTE: There is footage from the theatre production of a model dog with a pitchfork through it, which some people might find upsetting.

Teacher Notes

When teaching the novel as a set text, students may find this short film useful for understanding structure.

Students could analyse the play as a piece of live theatre, or study the play's structure and style when using it as a set text.

This is particularly useful for exploring the character of Siobhan and her role in the narrative.

Students could also examine Mark Haddon's use of language in the novel, and the role of the narrative voice.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 5 in Scotland.

More from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: From Page to Stage

Creating Atmosphere
Creating Comedy and Tension
Design Elements
Ensemble Acting
What is Physical Theatre?
Christopher and his Dad
Christopher and his Mum
Christopher and Siobhan
Who is Christopher Boone?