Playwright James DeVita lives inside author Cornelia Funke's head.

First Stage's resident playwright James DeVita is in rehearsals for the upcoming world premiere of Cornelia Funke's classic tale of Venetian intrigue, THE THIEF LORD. Although DeVita's stage adaptation was workshopped by First Stage last year, he continues to hone the script, always with the author's vision in the back of his mind.

DeVita talks about the challenge of taking a book like THE THIEF LORD and condensing it into a 70-minute script. "I maintain the integrity of the author. When I must write original material, I get inside Cornelia's head and inside the characters' heads, too."

DeVita loves the characters in this story, and he works hard to flush out all that is real between them without cutting away too much of their relationships. "It's like building a house of cards. How many cards can I remove without the house collapsing?" says DeVita. "We do not have the luxury of eight hours to create these ties. Sometimes one well-placed sentence or one meaningful glance can tell the audience everything."

THE THIEF LORD is set in Venice, and of its plot that twists and turns as though aboard a wandering gondola, DeVita jokingly asks, "Okay Cornelia, what didn't you do?" DeVita goes on to say, "Cornelia paints a great picture and I see a movie in my head where Venice is dank, wet, and mysterious, the church is creepy and quiet, and the theater smells of plush rotted seats." When asked about his favorite character, DeVita laughs, saying, "Victor has a heart of gold. Just look at how he treats his turtles."
We look forward to seeing the fruits of Mr. DeVita's labours. THE THIEF LORD opens this Friday, January 22, 7:00 p.m. at the Todd Wehr Theater. It runs through February 14, 2010.

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