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PBHS alum 'adapting' well

Dan C. Schmidt of Prairie Village now can add screenwriter and playwright to his resume.

The 1986 Peabody-Burns High School graduate is the current theatre director at Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, and was theatre director at Newton High School from 1992-99.

In fall of 2007, he adapted the book, “Shadows in the Asylum: The Case Files of Dr. Charles Marsh,” written by Dave Stern of Northampton, Mass. Through a collaborative effort with Stern, Schmidt premiered the stage version of his book at Blue Valley High School. Stern and other local dignitaries attended the show.

The show tells the story of a psychiatrist who has a mysterious past and is now coming to work for the infamous Kreigmoor Institute. His patient is a young college girl, Kari Hansen, who sees “shadows” coming from the walls and corners of her room. She is adamant that the shadows are real and that she is not “crazy.” Marsh and Kari take a dark journey into the subconscious and eventually both of their turbulent pasts.

After the success of the stage version and the collaborative writing process shared by the two artists, Hollywood has come calling. The book, along with the stage rights written by Schmidt, have been optioned for a movie produced by associates of Chris Nolan, director of the 2007 blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” Filming will begin after the script is finished.

Currently, with “Shadows” being optioned and off the market until Hollywood finishes the script treatment, Schmidt now is adapting the international award winning young-adult novel “The Devil’s Arithmetic” into the first American stage production.

“The Devil’s Arithmetic” is written by Jane Yolan and is being adapted by Schmidt for a November 2009 premiere, with consent from Yolan and her representation. “The Devil’s Arithmetic” tells the story of Hannah, a teen-age Jewish girl who is tired of holiday gatherings — all her family ever does is talk about the past. But this year’s Passover Seder will be different — Hannah will be mysteriously transported into the past … and only she knows the unspeakable horrors that wait. “The Devil’s Arithmetic” is a former winner of the National Jewish Book Award and is published by Puffin Modern Classics.

Schmidt also has started a student film summer camp in Kansas City, Mo., with friend Russ Hadley who also is head director of Third Eye Productions.

For more information, contact Blue Valley High School at (913) 239-4982 or e-mail to dschmidt@bluevalleyk12.org.

Last modified May 14, 2009

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