CHICAGO: It’s been 145 years since Jules Verne penned the classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus has been adapted into movies no fewer than 9 times, and has even been performed as a radio broadcast. The story is now being reenvisioned by Ann Sonneville and Clint Sheffer as a play, which will run at Chicago’s Strawdog Theatre Company Mar. 8–April 7.
The original novel tops out at 448 pages, which meant that necessary cuts had to be made to the story for this staging. Sonneville and Sheffer removed smaller plot points and extra details, but the essence of the story remains intact.
“The novel is a strange and wonderful piece—it’s prolix, rife with nautical detail, and full of eccentric diversions from the main lines of action,” Sheffer notes.
“Creativity thrives within limitations,” Sonneville adds. “This story provided one of the most extreme and exciting challenges we could imagine.”
Strawdog’s mission is to give its audience the unexpected, and with that goal in mind, 20,000 Leagues will incorporate live music, special effects and even an actual squid. Strawdog will partner with Victory Gardens Access Project for a fully accessible performance on April 2. “We hope our adaptation remains faithful to the major themes and moments in the novel,” offers Mike Mroch, the show’s director, “while also opening the material up to new audiences.”
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