Playwriting

Happy Birthday Frankenstein!

Written by Lindsay Price

Episode 213: Happy Birthday Frankenstein!

It’s Frankenstein’s Birthday this month! Or more accurately, it’s the birthday of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of the classic gothic romance Frankenstein. Drama teacher and playwright Laramie Dean talks about writing his adaptation of the novel (Frankenstein Among the Dead), what it’s like to take on this iconic work and writing for his students. How do you adapt it to the high school stage and high school budgets? How do you adapt it so there is more variety in the gender roles? (PS: there are great parts for girls in his play!)

Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Drama Teacher Podcast brought to you by Theatrefolk – the Drama Teacher Resource Company.

I’m Lindsay Price.

Hello! I hope you’re well.

Thanks for listening!

This is Episode 213, and you can find any links to this episode in the show notes which are at Theatrefolk.com/episode213.

Did you know it’s Frankenstein’s birthday this month? Happy birthday, Frankenstein!

Well, more accurately, it is the birthday of Mary – oh, I’m going to say this so wrong – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Mary Shelley – the author of the classic gothic romance, Frankenstein.

Our guest today tackled this iconic story and adapted it into a play – a play for high schools. Not an easy feat, right? There are many movie adaptations, many parodies. “It’s Frankens-teen, not Frankenstein.” That was the worst ever, don’t you think? I think!

Many versions of the monster. How do you make it theatrical? How do you adapt it to the high school stage and high school budget? How do you make it current to the student climate? We can’t publish a play that’s all guys and all the great parts.

So many questions! Let’s get to the answers. I’ll see you on the other side!

LINDSAY: Hello! Thank you everybody for listening!

I’m here today with Laramie Dean.

LARAMIE: Hello, Lindsay!

LINDSAY: Tell everybody where in the world you are.

LARAMIE: I am in Missoula, Montana.

LINDSAY: Missoula, Montana. Very nice.

We’re going to talk about a lot of things. We’re going to talk about you. We’re going to talk about Frankenstein Among the Dead which is this lovely – let’s see – this lovely thing. It’s a brand-new play here at Theatrefolk.

We’re going to start with you and teaching. How long have you been a drama teacher?

LARAMIE: I started teaching theatre in 2003 as an assistant to one of the professors of the University of Montana where I had just recently finished my bachelor’s degree in acting and I was sort of at odds. I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore.

Dr Jillian Campana – who is a huge influence on me and my career – asked me to come and assistant direct the university’s production of The Laramie Project. I had never directed before. She said, “Oh, you’ll be great, you’ll be great!”

We had a freshman in the program. He was very hard to reach, and she was having trouble directing him. She said, “You work with this guy after rehearsal.” I was like, “Ah, umm…”

I sat down with him and we talked. I gave him some suggestion and some direction. He changed for the better and, all of a sudden, I went, “Oh, my god, I can do this. I’m actually good at this.” I went back to grad school and Jillian gave me lots of opportunities with TA and then I got my own classes and I had a playwriting class.

Finally, several years down the road, I decided to become a high school theatre teacher and ended up with my job at Hellgate High School which is the most fantastic name a theatre teacher like me could possibly work at.

LINDSAY: Well, we’re going to talk a little bit about horror and that, I think, is just an even better school title when you like horror and you write horror. You work at Hellgate High. I just think that’s fantastic.

LARAMIE: I agree!

LINDSAY: What was your high school theatre experience like? Let’s start there. What was it like for you when you were in high school?

LARAMIE: My personal experience? Actually, I actually went to Hellgate my freshman and sophomore year in high school, and I was lucky to be able to take drama classes. They had drama classes – not full-time, which I’m also super lucky to be able to teach full-time theatre classes at Hellgate.

My first play I auditioned for at Hellgate was actually Dracula. When we talk about Frankenstein in a little bit, we’ll also talk about how I was never a huge Frankenstein fan as a kid. I was always more into Dracula and the Wolfman. But I auditioned for Dracula as a freshman. I did not get cast. I was devastated. Tried again in the fall. Hellgate did The Crucible and I was cast as Thomas Putnam. I had a great time. It was depressing. It was November and dark.

LINDSAY: And it’s The Crucible.

LARAMIE: Not the musical version, not a fun version, no happy ending.

LINDSAY: What?

LARAMIE: I know, I know – that Arthur Miller! What can you do with him?

Then, we ended up doing The Foreigner and I was a Ku Klux Klan member. I had one line and didn’t show up until the end. My drama teacher sequestered me and my fellow KKK characters to do a completely separate green room. Kept us separate from everybody else. I should ask her why.

Hey, Tammy, why did you do that? It was 20 years ago. I’m sure you remember.

But it was fun.

We were in Missoula because my mom was in law school. I’m actually originally from a little farming community in far northeastern Montana. After mom finished law school, we moved back to the farm which was tough. I mean, my graduating class in the little town that I moved back to is ten people. Yes.

My English teacher decided to do a play. It was awful, but it was fun. It was called Hail, the Hunkering Hero. I’m sorry if the playwright for that is somewhere out of the world, but it was pretty bad. I played a football-loving Appalachian hillbilly character. So, that was a stretch. But it was fun. We had a good time.

When I went back to the University of Montana, I sort of wandered around for a while and took an acting non-majors class kind of by accident. I stumbled into it. The graduate student that was teaching it said, “Why aren’t you a theatre major?” I was like, “Uh…” and then he started convincing me to do that. He cast me in The Threepenny Opera and then – waboom! – 20 years later, I’m a published playwright with Theatrefolk.

LINDSAY: Yes, you are. Yes, you are!

Yes, that is the end of the story.

Now, we’re going to get to Frankenstein Among the Dead. You’ve been writing for your students. That was the first play you wrote for your students, right? Is it? That’s a good question. Is this the first play that you wrote for your students?

LARAMIE: Now that I think about it, no. It was Alice in Wonderland. We did Alice in Wonderland first. I wanted to build my program up. I think it was my second or third year at Hellgate and we wanted to build the program. I love Alice in Wonderland. It touched some very specific buttons in the community because, up until then, we’d had pretty good audiences, but Alice in Wonderland, we have a beautiful auditorium – 565 seats – and we sold out every night for our three performances. I was like, “Oh! I guess everyone likes Alice in Wonderland!” It was with a big cast, crazy design, colors, lots of lunacy, and everyone loved it.

I don’t remember why I decided to do Frankenstein. Oh, yes, I do!

In my intermediate drama classes, I teach a design unit and we do this toy theatre project where they study a little bit about toy theatre and the history of toy theatre. And then, I give them literature or children’s plays. Every year, somebody does something really super cool with one of the children’s plays.

That year, one of my really awesome students, Anna Harrison, had done Frankenstein and they did a lightning bolt. Of course, the sets are pretty much just about this big. She had a lightning bolt built into the back of a set – the upstage wall of the set – and a flashlight behind it that would light up whenever the monster came to life or something scary would happen. I went, “Oh, that’s really cool! That’s really exciting!”

I thought, “Hey, I’ll do Frankenstein next.” I think that I had spring break. I sat down, and we actually had a lovely spring that year – 2015, I think. I sat on my front porch and drank coffee and started writing Frankenstein and had a great time. So, that was my second play that I wrote for my students, I think.

LINDSAY: What’s that experience like when you have something, and you bring it in and you just sort of lay it out for them? What’s their feedback like? What’s it like when you work with them?

LARAMIE: They tend to love it. They brag about it a little bit. Sometimes, they go, “Our theatre teacher writes his own plays!” It’s fun. We can change things or tailor things specifically for whatever cast happens to exist, if a line doesn’t work.

When we did Dracula two years ago, actually, the second night, I called the lead actress that played Mina and I was like, “I want to write a new ending to the show. I want to write a little five-sentence monologue at the end of Dracula. If I send that to you now, can you memorize it before tonight?” and she was like, “Yes.”

We can do cool things like that. You know how this works. You’re in the middle of a run.

Actually, when I was doing my PhD in Playwriting and Speech Communication in Carbondale, Illinois, at the Southern Illinois University, the culminating project for both the MFA playwrights and the PhD playwrights is you write a play and the university stages it. I was working with a director named Tom Kidd. He was fabulous. He was very upfront with the actors at the very beginning of the process. He said, “This is a living play and it has the possibility or the potential to change all the way up until the final performance.”

I felt kind of bad because we went into it with a certain amount of characters and we cast it. About two weeks into the rehearsal, we realized that one of the characters wasn’t working and we had to cut her. Oh, I know. But we kept the actress.

There was a chorus. I’m a huge, huge proponent of chorus parts. Paula Vogel uses it in How I Learned to Drive. I just saw a fabulous adaption of Jason and Medea by Barbara Lindsey, I think, that uses a chorus really effectively with good multiple characters. I love that. So, we were able to shift this actress. It was like, “Okay, you’re not totally cut from the show, but now you’re a chorus member.”

LINDSAY: You know, I really like that phrase – living play. I actually almost think that that’s what we should be using when we talk to students about writing student work because they get so locked in sometimes, you know, and they don’t want to change, and they get to the end of that first draft and they don’t want to go on to a second or third.

LARAMIE: Which I feel too a lot of times, and I tell them that. “I feel this, too. I want to be perfect right away. I want to be perfect the first time.” The lovely thing about a play is that you can redo it yourself. You can have a reading. That’s the other nice thing.

Normally, I’m able to gather enough either former students or actor friends of mine to sit down in our house. We call it “The Little Theatre.” I have this little proscenium arch thing in our TV room. I get a bunch of people together and have a reading. Of course, you know, that helps.

But then, it isn’t until you’re actually working or staging it and it’s on its feet that you go, “That’s just not working,” or “This line isn’t working.”

There was a line in Frankenstein. I didn’t even realize it was such a stupid line until the actress said, “It was a locket in a pocket!” I was like, “Ah, god, locket in a pocket! No!” So, we were able to cut that and make that change. But it was so great for them to learn that. I’m sure their English teachers, history teachers, or whoever they write papers for get them saying, “Hey, guys! Drafts, drafts, drafts! You have to cut through stuff and rearrange and reconfigure.”

A play being a living document, you know, Tennessee Williams changed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof years down the road. I mean, you have the power and the potential to do that which I think is great. I think it’s a great lesson for them to learn, too.

LINDSAY: Absolutely!

It is not a play until you see it and you hear it.

LARAMIE: Right!

LINDSAY: Which is the downside to doing a playwriting unit. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to stage 30 plays if you’ve got a large class and trying to figure out alternatives to doing that. But, no, I’m with you, man. When you see it and you hear it and you go, “Oh.”

LARAMIE: That might not be how that sounded in my head.

You know, in my advanced theatre class, my philosophy for them is I want them to learn how to build theatre from the ground up. We do a lot of devised theatre. We do a playwriting unit at the second half of the year. It’s a yearlong course.

Right now, we’re doing Greek theatre, so we’ve just read Medea and then that Jason and Medea play. We’re looking at Hippolytus and Phaedra. They’re all going to write their own ten-minute play. They have to study their own independent Greek plays. So, some of them will get the frogs, the birds, Electra – fun things like that. They’re going to write their own ten-minute play that’s inspired somehow by that. Then, we’ll read them all.

My playwriting professor at Carbondale, David Rush, had a really fantastic methodology for readings. You know, so often, your audience wants to write your play for you. We set it up where the playwrights have to come with questions ready for the audience. Of course, the audience is the class. They read the play. They use the actors in class that they have to work with. And then, they ask questions.

“Did this work? How did you feel about this? How did this work? What did you think about this?”

The audience is not allowed to say, “Well, what I would have done…” or “What you should have done…” You know, that can be so frustrating as a playwright. It’s like, “Well, this is my play.”

We do a lot of “How many of you felt this way about this moment?” and we’ll have a show of hands. It’s really lovely and very scientific.

LINDSAY: Also, because the worst thing that a playwright can do is stand up and say, “What did you think of my play?” You won’t get that scientific response. You’ll get, “I liked it!” or silence. That’s not helpful.

I love the idea – and I’m going to repeat it because I think everyone should do this – that you should have your playwright sort of craft their own feedback form.

LARAMIE: Yes.

LINDSAY: You know, they should be the ones asking the questions. It’s a very stressful thing to be asked what you think about a piece of art.

LARAMIE: Absolutely, which I may have been guilty of doing.

The Montana Repertory Theatre commissions local playwrights to do a touring show – an education touring show – for the State of Montana. Right now, I’m working with my friend Rosie on a play called Morgan and Merlin about Morgan le Fay – King Arthur’s evil witch half-sister – and Merlin who is, you know, Merlin.

I said to the new director, “What did you think? Did you like it? Did you like it?” going, “Oh, why are you doing that? Why are you doing that?”

LINDSAY: Oh, because it’s a living thing! It’s our baby!

LARAMIE: It’s my baby!

LINDSAY: We want everybody to love it. That’s what we want.

LARAMIE: Yeah.

So, I have 20 kids in this class, and they’ll all be able to write their own play. We’ll do stage readings. This year, I think I’m putting them into little four- or five-person groups and they will choose one of the plays that we’ve done to expand into a 20- to 25-minute play. And then, they’ll create it, they’ll design it, costume it, adapt it, however they want to do it to fit the specifications of their group. And then, we’ll do them in May.

I thought it was a nice solution to how to do a playwriting unit for 20 high school kids.

LINDSAY: Yeah, absolutely.

LARAMIE: There’s been a lot of trial and error for me.

LINDSAY: Well, that’s the name of the game though, isn’t it? Fail, fail, fail again. Oh! Okay, that works. Now we’ve got it.

So, on that note, let’s talk about writing Frankenstein Among the Dead. That’s our brand-new play here at Theatrefolk. The link is in the description. You can go and read sample pages. You can go and get this wonderful adaptation of this very classic story. I think it’s told in a way that I had never seen before. That’s why we published it!

And so, what was your approach? How did you approach adapting Frankenstein?

LARAMIE: Like I said, I’ve never been a Frankenstein fan. I kind of gravitate towards stories with strong female characters. I love me a strong female character. Of course, when you’re doing educational theatre, in my experience, I’ve tended to have more women than men. It’s a challenge sometimes trying to find pieces that will work for everybody, particularly to give opportunities to these fabulous women.

Frankenstein, as Mary Shelley points out in Frankenstein Among the Dead, I think there are three female characters – there is the mother; there is Justine, the servant; then, there’s Elizabeth. Oh, and there’s the dead bride, but she gets chopped up and never comes to life.

Elizabeth’s whole job is to just be ready to marry Victor. And then, she marries him and then the monster kills her. It’s a really iconic moment, I think.

Actually, I have this – this is my secret to adaptation with literature. You find graphic novel adaptations because they’re visual, right? This is the adaptation of Universal Monsters Frankenstein. Here’s this scene.

LINDSAY: A little higher.

LARAMIE: Like that?

LINDSAY: Yeah, there we go.

LARAMIE: Elizabeth gets strangled by the monster. That was the part that always scared me, fascinated me when I was a kid – the one part of the novel that I was like, “Oh.” But then, I was like, “She’s pretty. She marries him. Then, she dies.” She’s really there just to demonstrate the monster’s savageness and make Victor angry. I was having none of it. So, I really wanted to approach the story in a different way, like you said.

When I was a little kid, my parents were fabulous. My mother particularly has nurtured and encouraged my interest in horror and scariness. And so, Santa Claus – when I was eight, maybe – brought me The Bride of Frankenstein on VHS for Christmas.

You can my little poster behind me that I got at Universal Studios. This year, we went to LA for Christmas.

Yeah, The Bride of Frankenstein, I thought was interesting because she does come to life, but she doesn’t really talk. She hisses a lot and then they blow her up. I was really struck by that, but I really wanted to approach this story and say, “Hey, what can I do for the women?”

LINDSAY: You give them good parts. Write them good parts. Always. Always write with good parts.

LARAMIE: Right? I was so intrigued by Mary Shelley.

As I was doing research and preparing for this, I found a really interesting article or story about Mary Shelley and how her children kept dying. Her babies kept dying. I thought, “Ha!” There’s this really interesting link between a writer and how, as we said, your plays are your children and your stories are your children.

Of course, we’re doing Into the Woods at Hellgate right now because I’m a crazy person. That’s what the story escapes you. The story does what the story wants to do. Careful to tell you tell stories which is our children. You let them go and they go off and do their own thing.

I loved that idea that Mary Shelley was this writer with children that wouldn’t live, and she made this terrifying monster that scared even her. That was kind of the jumping-off place. Mary Shelley writing about this monster and then she’s wandering around with this candle and the monster appears and she loves it. She’s so excited. She doesn’t scream and run away. She’s like, “Ooh! Come with me! You’re awesome!”

LINDSAY: Well, of course, you know, why not?

LARAMIE: Like you do.

LINDSAY: Like you do.

What is it, you think, that attracts us to horror? This is not your only rodeo of horror.

LARAMIE: No.

LINDSAY: You also have a lovely podcast. Please, tell everybody the name of your podcast.

LARAMIE: Oh, thank you! It’s called This Places Scares Us. You can find it at ThisPlaceScaresUs.com. We’re on iTunes. We’re all over the place. Do a basic Google search.

My friend Katya and I sit down, and we talk every week about scary things. We’re actually recording tonight about shapeshifters and the so-called “horror of hybridity” and how you may look like one thing if you’re a shapeshifter, but you become something else and how that disrupts people’s lives in horror fiction and science fiction.

We talk about all the things that scare us. Probably not a podcast for children if you are a high school kid. Maybe wait until you’re old enough to vote.

LINDSAY: What is it about horror that attracts you?

LARAMIE: Me, personally, since I was a little kid, I wrote to Stephen King when I was seven and asked for a copy of Cycle of the Werewolf. I had seen the movie, Silver Bullet. American Werewolf in London scared the hell out of me. But I loved it. I loved that feeling of being scared and being freaked out. I went out of the room and not be able to watch, so I’d come creeping back in.

I wrote to Stephen King, and he sent me an autographed copy of the book because he’s an awesome guy, and that kind of pushed me down this road. I love to be scared. It’s just what interests me, I guess. But audiences respond to it and it’s tricky onstage.

I would love to explore more of how horror works – or doesn’t work – onstage. Vampire plays particularly don’t – vampire musicals, I should say. Dracula seems to… live forever. But vampire musicals don’t tend to do very well traditionally.

I wrote a play last summer – my first non-adapted based-on-literature – about an old woman. Something comes every night and bangs on her window and nobody believes her because she’s 80 and they think she’s ready for the home, but it’s this real scary thing. I would love to stage it and see if it works, I guess, onstage.

The scary can work onstage, or it might not work. Again, that trial and error thing we talked about, too. But people love it. People love to be scared.

When things are tricky or troublesome, the reason that the Universal Monster movies were so popular in the 40’s was there was World War II. People wanted to escape. They wanted their fears to be manageable. When you take something that is hard to deal with in your real life, but you make it deal-with-able as a monster – as a werewolf, as a Frankenstein monster, as a vampire that has real solutions to dealing with those problems – I think it makes them feel better. We can sort of have catharsis?

Catharth? Is that a word? We can catharth?

LINDSAY: Yes, we can catharth.

LARAMIE: We can catharth.

LINDSAY: We’re going to catharth.

I think that is an interesting and absolutely right down the path about horror – maybe even horror today – because, by far, the shows that we have that delve in horror – you know, we have Shuddersome which deals with Edgar Allan Poe, and Frankenstein. We have another writer, Steven Stack, who does the combo of horror and comedy.

I think what you hit on really nicely is a manageable fear with a very solvable problem. I think that life right now is very much unsolvable problems it seems. In the 21st century, there seems to be a lot of unsolvable problems and fears.

LARAMIE: Absolutely.

LINDSAY: Our teens today, I think – I certainly don’t want to speak for them but – there just seems to be a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear. So, why not throw all that into something like Frankenstein Among the Dead where the horror is manageable.

LARAMIE: I agree.

Yeah, you are able to be scared and then go home and the monster is destroyed which I explore a lot in Frankenstein Among the Dead, too. The characters of Mae and Colin have just come out of watching The Bride of Frankenstein and they’re talking about these very things. They’re having this discussion about the bride and how they blew her up. Of course, they are brutally murdered by the monster.

LINDSAY: Oops! Spoiler alert!

LARAMIE: It’s the first ten pages!

LINDSAY: Characters are killed by the monster. Just in case you didn’t know Frankenstein.

LARAMIE: He is not writing love sonnets.

LINDSAY: Although we have a middle school play called Frankenstein versus the Horrendous Goo where he does write love letters! That’s a different Frankenstein – much, much different Frankenstein.

You know what’s interesting, too? It seems that horror is the genre these days where we get lots of calls. We can’t say certain words. We can’t have relationships onstage. We can’t… can’t… can’t.

No one ever calls us up about our horror plays and says we can’t kill anybody onstage. It’s the same thing with Shakespeare, eh? You know, Shakespeare seems to get away with everything.

LARAMIE: Absolutely!

LINDSAY: Horror is kind of the same way. It’s almost like it’s the only safe genre.

LARAMIE: Well, it’s not real. It’s not real and I think they feel that way, too. It’s not real.

When we were doing the initial production of Frankenstein, the neck breaking, that horrifies me which is why it’s in there. It’s scary. It’s brutal. No one had a problem with it!

In Dracula, we did Dracula, oh, impaling and severed heads and blood, blood, blood, blood. In the novel Dracula, he cuts his chest open and has the heroine drink blood from his chest. We did not do that. We did the hand. It seemed safer. I mean, if people did, they would have an issue with that.

My high school is pretty liberal. We can do a lot. I have a little list of no-no words and then common sense, I think.

LINDSAY: Common sense.

LARAMIE: Oh, common sense.

LINDSAY: I like it when people use common sense.

As we wrap up here, let’s talk about producing. You talked a little bit about that – the fact that horror can work onstage, and it can’t work onstage.

LARAMIE: It might not.

LINDSAY: Might not work onstage.

As we wrap up, having directed it, what are some do’s and don’ts? What are some good do’s for putting horror on the stage and what are some really good don’ts?

LARAMIE: Oh, gosh, that’s so tough.

I think part of the issue is that we have movies and television. I tell my students all the time, “What can the theatre do that movies and television can’t?” They do realism and naturalism so, so well. So, what does the theatre offer?

That’s one of the reasons I like to do plays very minimalistically, suggested sets, platforms, platforms, platforms. We created a window in Frankenstein – a window, just hanging out, big gothic window. 100 years of movies, 70 years of television, and they’ve seen it. They’ve seen ghosts, they’ve seen vampires, they’ve seen werewolves turn into dust and change shape with special effects. And so, what can the theatre offer? Of course, there’s fun solutions.

I have found that I keep coming back to the neck breaking and the death. It’s almost like there’s this fine line between “will they believe it or not?” They know that these are kids playing these parts and that no one is really dead and you kind of have to get them to suspended disbelief. I think I found that the tech helps – if you have really awesome lights.

Again, I’m super fortunate. My husband who’s not a theatre person until he met me. He sort of has trained himself and – with help from some of our friends and my former technical director – has learned to make sets and do lights. There’s 150 light cues in Into the Woods because he’s amazing and we spend ten hours focusing lights. So, he uses light a lot.

When we did Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House a couple of years ago, very minimal sets, lots of light and shadow. I find that the more you go into what can your theatre magic accomplish, the more that the audience will buy into what you’re doing which seems counterintuitive because you’re making it less realistic-looking.

In Missoula, we’re lucky we have a pretty big theatre population. We have lots of live theatre that kids can go to. But, for the most part, their experience tends to be with Shakespeare, reading them in an English class out loud, and that is a big bummer for a lot of them, I think.

So, to introduce them to theatre and say, “Hey! This is what theatre can accomplish. It doesn’t have to be literal. It doesn’t have to be realistic. This platform is the lecture hall in Frankenstein. It’s the mountaintop where the monster pours out his soul. The lights, the shadow gobos – I mean, all this really cool stuff.”

If you’re going to do horror onstage, go expressionistic – shadows, lights, interesting shapes, texture. We had a monster box. I think it’s credited in the play. Anna Harrison and Nora Gibbons did the monster box because, you know, you have to come up with some way for the monster to be alive, and it only specifies so much. We found this big glass shower case. I don’t know what to call it. They decorated it with lights and clamps of all kinds of weird, science-looking things. The lights did the rest. Lightning and thunder sound effects all did the rest.

Trust your tech. Trust your designers. If you’re going to do horror onstage, trust your tech and your designers.

LINDSAY: Well, if you don’t do everything realistically because that means it could all live in the imagination of the audience which is why there’s so much in the 18th century, there’s so much horror, you know? 19th century. It’s all in the minds of their audience. They create the horror.

LARAMIE: Here is where Stephen King and I disagree.

Like I said, I’m a huge fan of Shirley Jackson. She’s my favorite author. The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Her whole thing was not to show because, often, like you said, what’s scary is if the audience imagines themselves.

Stephen King likes to rip the door off and show whatever is lurking outside of it. I think, sometimes, it’s scarier to let the audience imagine what is going on.

But a play like Frankenstein, we had some really visceral moments.

The moment where Victor dreams his mother is wandering through the streets and she’s dead and the actress did this weird jerky walk and her back was to us and she comes up and she turns around and she has a skull mask. The audience loved it. It was a really freaky little jolt of a moment. What else? Oh, Henry’s death – these are really violent and scary moments.

Sometimes, yes, you should show them. Sometimes, not.

LINDSAY: It all depends, right?

LARAMIE: Yes!

LINDSAY: Use your common sense.

LARAMIE: Test it.

LINDSAY: That’s what we’re going to end on. Use lights and your common sense.

LARAMIE: Common sense, please, everybody. Please!

LINDSAY: Awesome!

Laramie, thank you so much for talking to me!

LARAMIE: Thank you!

LINDSAY: We have Frankenstein Among the Dead at theatrefolk.com.

LARAMIE: Lots of roles for women! Lots of roles for women – good roles!

LINDSAY: Roles for women! Roles for women!

Use your common sense.

All right, awesome! Thank you so much!

LARAMIE: Thanks, Lindsay!

LINDSAY: Thank you, Laramie!

Before we go, let’s do some THEATREFOLK NEWS.

It’s a play feature! It’s a play feature! It’s time to feature a play!

So, of course, we’re going to talk about Frankenstein Among the Dead by Laramie Dean. This is a new play in the Theatrefolk catalogue.

This is a story that traditionally focuses on Dr. Frankenstein and the monster – two great parts, but for guys. Laramie’s play has those two major roles, but the play shares the story from the perspective of two women.

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.

This play is gothic – awesomely so. Filled with poetic language, filled with emotionally charged characters, filled with thunder and lightning. And, of course, filled with the monster.

Go to Theatrefolk.com to read free sample pages from Frankenstein Among the Dead. Or click the link in the show notes – theatrefolk.com/episode213.

Finally, where can you find this podcast? Go to Theatrefolk.com/podcast and there you will see we are on iTunes, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and more. That’s Theatrefolk.com/podcast.

And that’s where we’re going to end.

Take care, my friends. Take care.

 

Music credit: ”Ave” by Alex (feat. Morusque) is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

About the author

Lindsay Price

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