> The Play
On his former website about Dirk, James Goss wrote : "The script takes a very complex book, and forces it to make sense in two hours for a live audience. Since the book features all sorts of expensive things, such as time travel, alien spacecraft and ghosts, it is obvious that some things had to go.The Dirk Gently play is quite a miracle. If staged versions of Hitchhiker's have known various success, DIRK is now the recognized stage version of "Dirk Gently's holistic detective agency" and I don't think anyone who write a new play based on that book now.
James Goss and Arvind Ethan David were students when they wrote the play. They never thought it would become such a success. Some years ago (in 2002), James and Arvind wrote their thoughts about the play. Here are some extracs :
"It starts when we're in the VIth form and are asked to direct a school play. Unable to find anything we want to put on (mainly because we were too lazy to actually read anything) we decide, with the careless hubris of teenagers, to adapt a novel. Not just any novel of course, but Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", a novel with a ludicrously complicated plot which spans 4 billion years, at least three alternative universes; a cast comprising vampire-detectives, aliens, ghosts, and an electric monk; all linked by the central theme of "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things" (hence 'holistic').
We were sixteen, so didn't bother to get rights clearance but just staged the thing. It was very short (about an hour) and by all accounts, amusing but utterly incomprehensible. It had a budget of forty pounds. A video recording of this production exists, but no-one is sure exactly why.
Somehow, though, within the narrow confines of school cloisters, the play was a huge popular success. As such, it was a changing point in our school careers: too clever by half, overly academic, poetry quoting, playwriting adolescents seldom win popularity contests in British boarding schools; somehow, however Dirk's popular appeal spread to its authors (or auteurs as we fancied ourselves) and suddenly, unexpectedly, we had street-cred.
Fast forward 3 years: and we're undergrads at Oxford, trying to make our mark on the University drama scene: Dirk once again comes to mind, and a re-written, re vamped production, rife with special effects, is born. This time, we figure we should get permission from Douglas' agents - and being the terribly gracious Ed Victor and Maggie Phillips, they give it.
More surprisingly, they come to see the show, and, enjoy it so much they tell Douglas that he must see it too - and on the penultimate night, the great man does.
It was the summer of 1995, the beginning of the internet boom, and with the futuristic foresight that kept him ahead of the curve his whole life, Douglas was starting up a multiple media entertainment company - The Digital Village - which before becoming h2g2 and merging with BBC online, created the groundbreaking Starship Titanic game, struck the Hitchhikers film deal with Disney and, under the stewardship of Robbie Stamp, assembled one of the nicest and most talented teams in the history of the world.
That was all in the future though, and that night, over Moroccan lamb, red wine and the adrenalin from meeting one of our idols, Douglas opened and then blew away our minds with conversation about theatre and the internet, writing comedy for interactive media, the convergence of entertainment platforms and the joy of collaborative creation.
After Oxford, much to our surprise, there cane a seemingly never ending series of requests, from across the globe, to perform the play. Somehow the global Douglas Adams mafia had heard of the script's existence, they ferreted pirate sections across the wilderness of the internet, and then started to email us. From Minnesota and Melbourne, from Buenos Aeries and Didcot, from universities and schools, from amateur dramatic groups and Douglas fan clubs, requests kept coming. As such, the play constantly got re-written and (hopefully) improved. Along the way, it grew increasingly away from the book that spawned it, becoming more true to its new medium, or its new milieu as Dirk would say.
• Some of the more notable divergences between novel and play include (purists should skip this section to prevent unnecessary nose bleeds) :
1. The Electric Monk is gone. Sorry.
2. The Dodo is gone. REALLY sorry.
3. The number of alternative universes traversed by the story is reduced by 2.
4. Michael Wenton-Weaks is now a multiple murderer.
5. Bach lives.
The biggest casualty has been the electronic monk. Since he spent the book riding around on a horse with a shotgun, he was not immediately suited to the stage. So, for technical reasons, there is no electronic monk. Since he also committed the murder of Gordon Way, this may also cause some problems for purists.
The ending is also much more streamlined, since the original book takes place in a parallel universe where Coleridge wrote all of Kubla Khan and there was no Bach. In the universe of the play there is a Bach, and Coleridge was foiled long ago. That just leaves us with a fistfight at the dawn of time and a dimensionally-troubled sofa to sort out. There, that makes perfect sense" ).
Dirk revivals came to represent a thread of constancy in our otherwise divergent and highly chaotic careers. Most excitingly, of course, those revivals also gave us a chance to catch up with Douglas, who remained throughout the most supportive, interested and yet non-interventionist author two young plagiarists could ever have asked for. Over red wine of ever increasing quality, we got to keep having conversations about writing and technology, about the internet and community, and always, always, about the future of entertainment."
- Production Notes
- Extract from the Script
- Diffrent Version (From Oxford to L.A.)