The first, rather unnerving question asked was, "Is adaptation even different from new writing?" This was frankly not the question I was expecting because in my own head the two things are obviously different. Rather weakly I replied, "Surely they must be because otherwise we would never have come up with two words to describe the same thing. Right?" It quickly became apparent that my own certainty in asking the question had prompted a whole queue of people coming up to interrogate the very basis of the question. After taking a moment to overcome my goatish stubbornness (read: I'm a Capricorn) I quickly realised this was a better outcome than I could ever have expected!

Through the crucible of discussion and frank interaction the word adaptation slowly came to be disentangled from 'a new production of...'. The latter described what was initially the enemy of quality theatre-making: a re-staging of a text written by an old, dead, middle-class white man by a group of living people. Adaptation became stunning productions like Teenage Dick or Chekhov's First Play: daring reinventions of canonical work. We felt that one of the most effective tools available to an adaptor is defamiliarisation, applying a shock to audience expectation in order to illuminate a new, relevant idea. But, regardless of the level of familiarity whenever you programme a production of a show from the Western canon you are making an active choice not to stage a play by a young, queer, black woman (for example). The question of familiarity then caught us: audiences are more likely to come and see a play they are familiar with as it feels less financially risky than a play that have never heard of. This in turn means that adaptation can be a safer bet for producers and Artistic Directors. However, ever the tricksters, we realised a well done adaptation like 'Death of a Salesman' can bring audiences in to see, what is in fact a far more radical piece of theatre than they were expecting. This production in particular was ostensibly an example of the dreaded "a production of..." - it was a very faithful re-staging of a play by an old, dead, white man. However, changing the race of the cast and the modern dramaturgy created a piece all agreed had both relevance and importance to modern theatre. So, even the least of the three categories could have relevance.

Relevance became a reoccurring topic for the rest of the discussion: we wondered who 'relevant' is relevant to? Is relevance a temporal or societal metric? Must something be new to be relevant? What about artistic relevance? Newness led the discussion to the cliche questions of 'why this? why now?' - is this how we measure relevance? Old stories die if not told in new ways, but should old stories be left to die? Should new stories take their place? But, are there any new stories?

Finally, we opened the boxes of translation as adaptation, and also questions of adaptation across mediums like film to theatre, and interactive and immersive experiences which, it quickly became clear, were questions too large for this single session.

The short answer, to the question of relevance, is yes. Regardless of how you define the metric, adaptation can be as relevant as a piece of new writing as long as it is a qualitatively good piece of theatre being innovative either in form or in content and its familiarity might be a real aid in the exposure of traditional theatre audiences to radical, new ideas.