Meet Teresa Love – The Adapter of THE SELFISH GIANT

by Tara Haas, dramaturg

Playwright Teresa Love

Playwright Teresa Love

Playwright/Adapter Teresa Love graciously agreed to let me conduct an interview with her for our readers. Take a look to find out more about her, as well as her insight into the project.

Tara: The Selfish Giant is not your first adaptation for BYU. What others have you done?

Teresa: I’ve adapted Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and Cymbeline for BYU’s Young Company. I also directed my adaptation of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Young Company. I was one of the adapters of A Wrinkle in Time which premiered here at BYU last spring. Over the years I’ve adapted many, many books and tales for the stage, mostly for young audiences. Some of my favorites are Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Christmas Carol.

Tara: What do you love about adapting stories for the stage?

Teresa: Getting at what I think is the heart of a good story and envisioning how I can engage an audience so they can be as excited about it as I am is what catches my fancy. Nothing pleases me more than when, post show, a young person comes up, tugs on my coat and says “That was cool! Where do I get the book?”

Tara: How did you become interested in doing adaptations?

Teresa:Out of necessity! In the early part of my directing career I felt there were few really excellent plays for young audiences. So I found some good stories and had at it. Now there are many good playwrights who focus on young people and families. But in the meantime I’ve written about 50 plays, mostly adaptations.

Tara: Have you written any original plays?

Teresa: Yes, often focusing on historical events. Which is ironic because to understand history we frequently adapt it to narrative form, so there I am, right back with a good story or stories to tell.

Tara: What were particular challenges with The Selfish Giant?

Teresa: Well, it’s not very long, and there is no hint about why the Giant is selfish. We have to care about that problem if we’re going to sit in the dark for an hour together. I felt I needed to give the Giant some back story, yet still honor Oscar Wilde’s ideas. I had to read and re-read all his other fairytales before I could move forward confidently.

Tara: What do you love about The Selfish Giant?

Teresa: 1. The imagery is so beautiful it just tickles my brain.
2. It’s a story of repentance and forgiveness, which is a classic theme, close to my heart.
3. I truly believe the world is more delightfully Spring-like when children are included, considered and listened to, something the Giant finally learns.

Tara: What do you hope audience members gain from viewing the play?

Teresa: I hope they will look at their friendships differently, and cherish them more. I hope that they will choose kindness over rudeness. I hope that they will sense the whisperings of the religious truths I think Wilde hoped to communicate.
I hope they will think “What a good story!” I hope they will tell their own stories.

Tara: How did you first become interested in theatre?

Teresa: I was a book worm first, a lover of story. When I was a teenager we moved near to a professional summerstock acting company, and my eyes were opened to that most dynamic way to tell stories: theatre. But I never left my first love of simple storytelling behind. In fact I teach storytelling classes.

Tara: What do you love most about theatre?

Teresa: It happens right here, right now in a way that has never happened before and will never happen again. And that’s because while the play may be “set,” the people who make up the audience is always different. I love the “conversation”, the back and forth between the actors and the audience and how that changes every performance.

Tara: What is your family like?

Teresa: My husband was a circus/variety artist for 25 years, but is now an elementary teacher. Our married daughter is approaching college graduation. She’s still of great lover of children’s literature and we two can go on and on about it for hours. Our son, Timothy, is ten years old and loves stories too. His favorites are Dr. Who, Star Wars and Hugo Cabret.

Tara: What do you do in your spare time?

Teresa: You mean time I carve out between projects? I read or watch stories, of course! My idea of heaven is a book and blanket underneath a tree in the summertime. Or on the beach! We live in Southern California for 25 years, so we love the beach. And the Dodgers. And the Lakers.

Tara: Where did you attend school?

Teresa: My family moved frequently. I went to 12 different schools by the time I graduated from high -school. I did my undergraduate work here at BYU.

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