“When I would read it in translation,” Mr. Gregory said, “there would be these brilliant passages, and then it would be completely incomprehensible and boring. I wondered if that was the play, which I doubted, or the translations.”
It was then that Mr. Shawn, the playwright and occasional “Gossip Girl” guest star, got what he called “one of the only clever ideas I ever had.”
He added: “I, being a very overconfident person, was not afraid to translate it from the Norwegian. Even though I can’t speak Norwegian.”
Despite this apparent shortcoming, he said, “Norwegian is very similar to German and English, with a funny pronunciation.”
Obtaining a copy of the original “Master Builder” text from the Norwegian consulate, Mr. Shawn photocopied it in a larger size and had Sandra Saari, an Ibsen scholar, write the meanings of various unfamiliar words in the margins.
He then translated the play himself, making cuts and changes of emphasis and interpretation, resulting in a drama composed “the way I would have written it if I’d been him,” Mr. Shawn said.
He added: “May God strike me dead for that, if it’s wrong to have done it.”
For everyone who thinks adaptation is not “real” writing.