Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Monsters, strong roles for women, and fun death scenes – what more do you need? Ready to bring an easy-to-stage classical adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to life? Then you’re ready for Frankenstein Among the Dead by Laramie Dean.
Thunder and lightning tear apart the night sky while two young women explore the story of Frankenstein: Mary Shelley, who wrote the original novel, and Elsa, mysterious and determined to learn Mary’s secrets, including the most important of all… how to bring the dead to life.
Why did we publish this play?
We published Frankenstein Among the Dead for many reasons. It’s theatrical – so important when you’re adapting from one genre to another. It’s not a retread of the familiar – there are so many Frankenstein stories out there, but you’ve never seen one like Laramie Dean’s! And lastly, there are great parts for girls. Frankenstein is Mary Shelley’s story and she is front and centre of this adaptation. That’s what really sold me. Read it today!
Let’s hear from the author!
1. Why did you write this play?
I had a kid who was going to be a senior and I knew he would be perfect as the Monster. Also, my students in my Intermediate Theatre class had just made toy theatres to act out a scene from a version of Frankenstein I had lying around my office. Their design elements were super cool, and I asked if they’d be interested in designing a Frankenstein that I wrote.
Everyone was very excited, so I set to work over spring break adapting the novel. I also knew that the novel doesn’t contain very many strong female characters – actually, there aren’t really any at all – so I decided to feature Mary Shelley herself, change Elizabeth so that she was more active and invested in Victor’s experiment, and create a new character, Elsa, named after Elsa Lanchester, who played Mary Shelley and the titular character in James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Reach; try; experiment; learn; live. Be responsible for your actions, but try. Create!
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
What we used for our original production called “the Monster Box,” was an eight foot tall box, almost like a big shower stall made of Plexiglas. We used it to bring the Monster to life and decorated it with wires and clamps and red Christmas lights to make it look very scientific-y. I don’t specify in the script how the Monster comes to life exactly, which should be part of the fun of producing it. Only that lightning and electricity should be somehow involved.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Actors: pay attention to the rhythm of the dialogue; there are line breaks intentionally placed, and should be used or slight pauses or the quick taking of a breath. Also, have fun!
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
It features strong roles for women, especially Mary and Elsa. It allows for interesting and exciting design choices, including costumes and makeup. Lots of fun death scenes.