Adaptivity Theatre Company
The company’s ambition to use classical texts as the foundation for its contemporary productions is reflected in the visual design of the logo:
a medieval Gothic window to form the A
an ancient Greek column to form the T
an aerial view of The Globe theatre to form the C
This practice reflects the philosophy that insights into contemporary issues that society has been grappling with for centuries can be found through the thematic exploration of classical texts within a contemporary context.
Based in Australia, the company’s first production was an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which began its life as a directorial dissertation performance, awarded a high distinction at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2017. This adaptation retained the original Shakespearean text, while modifying some linguistic expressions, dramatic situations and characters to reflect a contemporary, 21st century digital society.
Taking inspiration from William Shakespeare, Kelly Wilson develops projects of an experimental nature. Shakespeare was a highly experimental artist who utilised a progressive approach to the staging of his plays and crafted the language he used to create universal characters and situations. He refused to be bound by theatrical conventions of his era, utilising any method at his disposal to entertain his audience with legendary and timeless stories. Shakespeare simply wanted to entertain ALL of his audience, from the wealthy aristocrats in the galleries, who loved the philosophical themes found in his soliloquys, to the impoverished groundlings standing at the edge of the stage, who loved the violence, combat and humour also found in his plays.
Similarly, Adaptivity Theatre Company endeavours to render the poetic language of classical texts more accessible to today’s highly visual, digital era audience by incorporating digital projection, movement and dance to represent visually elements of text, as well as music to heighten moments of emotional joy or turmoil by converting selected text into lyrics for original music.
Photography: Tassou Amerikanos
Founder and Artistic Director
Originally from the western United States, Kelly Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts Education, with a minor in English Education, and has worked as a teacher and artistic director for many years. She first developed her passion for Shakespeare in high school, which quickly extended to a variety of other classical texts, such as ancient Greek and Medieval theatre.
In 1999, while completing a Master of Arts in Theatre, she converted her fascination with the Shakespearean films of Kenneth Branagh into a thesis, examining the methods he uses to present Shakespeare’s language so clearly to a modern audience. As a result of Wilson’s study, she theorised that the key to making Shakespeare’s language communicate clearly to a digital age audience is through maintaining the complex interrelationship between the verbal and the visual components of his poetic language through film techniques such as the use of voice-over and re-enactment.
Believing it might be possible to adapt Branagh’s filmic approaches to the theatrical stage, Wilson participated in a five day intensive workshop in July 2013 designed for theatre teachers, led by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the University of Warwick, entitled Teaching Shakespeare: Stand Up for Shakespeare. During this programme, she realised that the techniques taught in this course to assist young students to comprehend Shakespearean language could also be used in live performances to communicate with a highly visual, 21st century audience. For the following three years, Wilson adapted and developed a variety of visualisation techniques with her theatre students in work with classical texts written by Shakespeare and Sophocles, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Antigone and Oedipus Rex.
Wilson’s desire to focus more exclusively on her work as an artistic director led her to the MA Text and Performance programme with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Birkbeck, University of London in 2016. During her study, she put into practice the theories and visualisation techniques she had developed as a theatre teacher and director, combined with new discoveries involving immersive theatre which allows audience members more control over their theatrical experience, in a manner which provokes reflection upon their individual lives as well as current societal issues. Wilson seeks to continue this exploration and experimentation in the work she creates for Adaptivity Theatre Company.