Some people believe there are only six or seven or twelve stories from which all human folklore is derived: girl loves boy, boy fights boy, etc. To these people, the rest is all style and dressing. As consumers of these stories, however, we know that this dressing is where we make all the important meaning. Romeo and Juliet isn’t the same story as The Truth About Cats and Dogs or even than the modern re-telling Romeo+Juliet. Context matters. In this program, we’ll take stories we already know, work to understand them more deeply, and then adapt them, making changes to some of the “style and dressing” to transform the original story into something with a completely different meaning, style, and emphasis.

Check out our Adaptations projects here:

Final Projects

Use the arrow keys or click the pointers in the lower right
to see the slideshows and other materials we used during this program.

Session 1

Adaptation & Memes

What is an adaptation?

The Wiz

The Wizard of Oz — originally set in 1930/40s Kansas— in 1970s Harlem, NYC


Sleeping Beauty—from the perspective of Maleficent, the evil fairy

The making of Malificient from Sleeping Beauty

Why do people make adaptations?

The Wiz

  1. Modernize.
  2. Change setting.
  3. Don't see selves in the original telling (e.g. rural, white farming community in 1940s Kansas.)
  4. Challenge assumptions in original story.


  1. Change form.
  2. Tell story from different perspective.
  3. Challenge cultural assumptions about "hero."

What is the power
of an adaptation?

  1. Reach different audience.
  2. More accessible, especially when original is outdated.
  3. Show moral is universal.
  4. Highlight cultural changes.
  5. Take advantage of new technologies and techniques

Adapting Memes

gender of the main characterset in a different countrytakes place in the distant pastfrom a different character's perspectivetold in a different mediumtakes place in a distant futurehappens when Trump is presidentif the main character were half as tallif the characters were different racesif a character was gayif the main character had been born into a different familyif the place had very different laws

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

What is this actually about?

  • gender
  • attraction
  • youth

How can I translate or subvert this?

What if it were in a different time?

My ankles bring all the aristocratic gentlemen to the courtyard.

What if it were in reality?

My tank top doesn't bring anyone anywhere. It's just a shirt.

How does the meaning change when Trump says it?

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

How does the meaning change when it's applied literally?

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

A phrase I hear a lot: "You late."

You late.

You late.

You late.

"Fake news."

"Fake news."

"Don't worry, it's just fake news."

"Don't worry. This melting thing — it's fake news."

Adapting your own memes...

Phrases to think with

On fleekTriggeredThey may take our lives but they'll never take our freedom!You complete meThat'll do, pig. That'll do____, I am your fatherWhen they go low, we go highThink differentBecause you're worth itJust do itI wish I knew how to quit youAll men are created equalBoiJust keep swimming

Your memes

"When Donald Trump is saying he's trying to protect the US."

"When Bae says she likes bad boys."

"When your crush texts you back"

"I am your father."

"Just keep swimming!"

"Flash 2.0"

"Just keep swimming."

"On fleek."

"On fleek."

"When you know the date and time when you're going to build the wall!"

"Welcome to your tape."

"Never give up!"

"When you leave your homework to the last minute"

"When someone eats your food"


"I am your father!"

Session 2

Adapting fables & fairytales

Today we're doing 5 minute riffs to come up with adaptations of stories.

Magic Scarf

Sleeping beauty

My Version: Sleeping Horror
Baby girl cursed by marketing men in a boardroom by beauty standards that make her buy stuff.

She's in a dieting, fashionista renzy until awoken by a friendship...

What's your version?

The boy who cried wolf

My Version: The Doctor
He diagnoses...
without a diagnosis.

What's your version?

Romeo and Juliet

Leonard Bernstein's Version

Contemporary Version:
Romeo + Juliet

My version: Romeo + Romeo
Two homophobic societies...

What's your version?

Twelfth Night

Barbara Streisand Version: Yentl

Comtemporary Version:
She's the Man

My Version: It Was Love...

Female antelope falls in love with female lion. Dresses up as king of jungle to be with her love. Female lions fall in love with the new man on the block. Maybe it's because she smells so good...

What's your version?

The Quest...



My Version: Vaccine

An older brother's quest to save his sister....

What's your version?

Brainstorming Resources:

Session 3

Adapting more stories

Brainstorm stories to adapt

  1. Choose a partner to work with for the day.
  2. Brainstorm as many stories, song lyrics, sayings, memes, movies, etc. that you both know as you can.
  3. When you're done, brainstorm different ways you could adapt your stories. What aspects could you change?

If you're stuck thinking of stories to adapt, or ways to adapt your stories, take a look at this document to help you brainstorm.


either an idea you have or the place you're stuck

Session 4

Project brainstorming

Scripting Storyboarding

Write your stories in google docs at

If you get stuck thinking of project ideas, check out this document to help you brainstorm.

Session 5

Project proposals due

Your first draft storyboards as well as any materials request forms are due today!

Sessions 6-14

Filming and Editing Days

Session 15

Final Film Festival