Having recently completed our production of “Prince Prigio,” we wanted to thank our Patreon subscribers by providing some additional information about the production.
“Prince Prigio” eyed for Adaptation from the Start
Besides original series like Rogue Tyger and Quorum, we knew we’d want to adapt some classic adventures for Jabberwocky Audio Theater: adventures and cliffhangers and fantastical tales being one of the general touchpoints of our productions.
So even before the idea of Through the Looking Glass took form, Bjorn knew he wanted to adapt “Prince Prigio,” since it was one of his favorite fairy tales growing up — and quite modern for being over 100 years old.
One idea was to make a full-cast audio production like our main shows, but both because of the pandemic precautions and the speed at which we needed to record, having an adaptation that was an almost straight reading of the text felt the most expedient.
As it happens, this approach of ‘a main narrator with other voices piping in’ worked very well for “Prince Prigio” and may work for other productions — though we may find a bit more adaptation will be needed (more on that below).
Creating the Script: Chapters vs. Parts
One of the first hurdles was how to break up the story for broadcast. “Prince Prigio” is over 18,000 words and we weren’t going to cut it down to fit into a single half-hour episode… or even a two-parter.
Moreover, our “half hour episodes” actually need to come in no longer than 28 minutes for radio broadcast, and of those 28 minutes, two or three should be devoted to opening and ending credits. So basically, we’re looking at about 25 minutes per episode tops.
Now one thing we’ve learned from working on Through the Looking Glass is to estimate a narrator’s speaking time. So far, it runs from about 130 words a minute to 150 words per minute, depending on factors such as the narrator’s default pace for the story, how many characters they voice, and the story action. For example, a chase scene will have a naturally more frantic pace then describing a feast.
We’ve learned to be cautious in our estimates and try for 130 words per minute. That means that “Prince Prigio” would be at least 5 parts. And to give us even more wiggle room –there might be musical transitions or sound effects to sell a scene– we were looking at a six-part series.
Meanwhile, “Prince Prigio” had 18 chapters, and a quick look at the chapters found that, like just about any chapters of a book, they’re uneven. At the 25-minute mark, we couldn’t easily end at the end of the chapter. Not only that, we couldn’t end at a chapter neatly and consistently at the 22-minute mark, the 23-minute mark, or the 24-minute mark.
So we had to make a choice of whether to follow the chapters and have episodes of wildly different lengths… or to follow our broadcast format and find a way to make the adaptation work.
Since we’re an audio production that’s broadcast on the radio in a very specific format, we decided to figure out a way to make the episodes work ending mid-chapter. Luckily, the source material provided a clue for how this could happen. The narrator, one can assume a somewhat silly avatar of author Andrew Lang himself, occasionally comments on the action of the story and his telling of it, not unlike how William Goldman talks about having to adapt the ficticious Simon “S.” Morgenstern’s Princess Bride: it’s all another droll layer to the meta fairy tale.
The trick then became to “hang a lantern” on the fact that the episodes were not ending neatly at the end of chapters in most cases, and have our fictitious narrator get rather fussy about it. We’re biased, but we think this adds a fun dimension to the production.
Casting the Parts
Getting the Recordings and Editing
Generating Production Estimates for the Future
We’re so thankful for our Patreon supporters that help us keep bringing new stories to air!