Judith Adams

Earthsea

October 2018

A dramatisation in 12 half-hour episodes of the classic books by Ursula K. Le Guin


Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) shared our journey of adaptation – reading all the scripts as they developed and warmly approving the results.

Sadly, though she read the final scripts, she has not been able to hear the second half.

This dramatisation is dedicated to her spirit and genius and to her deliciously witty and trenchant support. I sorely miss her emails. Judith Adams

“Honestly, I wish the people who want to make films out of Earthsea would find adapters/scriptwriters of the calibre of Judith Adams. These brief audio dramas require enormous compression of scenes and events, but her sensitivity to what the books are about, what the heart of them is, where the whole story goes, guides her choice of what can and can’t be cut, and where to put it. She’s just about unerring”.

Ursula Le Guin, Sept. 2016

This epic project is a feminist interpretation, through the fusion of all six books (Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales of Earthsea and The Other Wind). Distilled across six hours, this will be the creation of an immersive world to rival Middle Earth, Hogwarts, Gormenghast and Neverwhere. Game of Thrones has used may of its key tropes. Although adored by teenagers for decades, Earthsea isn’t simply a saga for the young. Le Guin layers her work with themes of self-discovery, relationships, isolation and connection, love and betrayal, violence and redemption. Earthsea has unique characters, glorious geography and the energy of its own songs, sagas and myths.

It challenges all boundaries, especially those of gender, race and privilege.

“Le Guin brings reality itself to the proving ground.”

Theodore Sturgeon

BBC Blog: Writer’s Room

Season One (repeated): Friday 5 October – Friday 12th October 2018

Season Two (premiere): Monday 15th October – Monday 22nd October 2018

Producer / Director: Sasha Yevtushenko

Suggested Approach & Structure / JA to SY

Our dramatisation is about making the map of Earthsea breathe life. The action is a series of journeys across this living map. What we hear will be a soundscape full of the elements of fire, water, air and earth and of three-dimensional characters, all as vivid as imagination can conjure.

We make the project in two cohesive parts, three hours each, and, instead of one book following another, we meld the relevant stories and connected narratives together into two blocks of seamless, action-based story-telling: one half asking the question, the other half discovering an answer.

Each half stands alone; but enriches the other.

Part One is based on The Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore.

Part Two is be based on Tehanu, Dragonfly and The Other Wind.

Narrative in the first three stories is shared between Ged (wizard of Earthsea) and Tenar (priestess of the Tombs of Atuan).

This is the through line that links all the journeys: one great, shared journey from false to real death, in which the dragons, as well as women’s power, play a vital role in the full understanding of a choice and agreement made when the islands first rose from the sea, recorded in Earthsea folk tales and songs (the verw nadan).

This choice, between dwelling/accruing, and freedom/wildness, was made by all living things, but the consequences in the world of men have not been embraced, and the spirit of the agreement has not been honoured. Those who chose possessions, control and power, even the “good” wizards themselves, have failed to understand the message of that half-death they so fear in the dry, stony world beyond the grey wall: that their victory in seizing magic from the dragons is only partial, and it poisons the spring of natural life itself, as well as natural death.

Women, working closely with another sort of power and the dragons, flying on Another Wind, must remind the people of Earthsea of the way of true living and true dying.

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