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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

August 22, 2008

Frankenstein and Pizza!

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:29 pm

This past Wednesday our Resident Professional Acting Company joined me at lunch for pizza and a reading of my latest draft of our new version of Frankenstein which will premiere in October.  This is draft ten and there were a number of changes from the last draft they read.  The biggest change was the ending.  Don’t worry, I won’t give it away.  All I’ll say at this point is that it involves fire and ice.  (And it’s closer to Mary Shelley’s original ending, though it has a few of my own twists thrown in as well.)  Most of all I worked more fully on developing the characters.  Victor’s betrothed, Elizabeth, (Sara Claire Smith) for instance, now relies on faith versus Victor’s reliance on science and reason.  Victor’s friend Henry, (Brian Zane) who was just a tag-a-long friend in the early draft, now challenges Victor and his methods.  In one instance I realized I had simplified the plot elements for Justine, the governess (Viveka Chandrasekaran) and the village bully (Sonny Kong) too much and will restore some of the elements cut from version 10.  (Note to future playwrights: Never throw anything away.)  The biggest development in this new draft, as was evident from the reading, is how the character of the Creature has evolved.  Actor Michael Lazris read it with great pathos and power and the scenes between Victor (Andy McCain) and the Creature in Act II are really strong—so much so that I realize I need to go back and rework the Creature’s act one scenes.  This is a tough act because it’s here that we are introduced to the Creature for the first time, and as in Mary Shelley’s version, we must see the horror of this creation but his humanity too.  A tall order.  The other actors gave great readings too and in some scenes made my writing sound better than it is. (Another hint for future plarwrights, always find a cast that makes  you look good.)  By reading the script out loud these professionals helped me find the awkward parts—phrases that look great on paper but don’t sound that realistic. Bessie Edwards, our Stage Management Intern this season read the stage directions to help everyone follow the action—and there is a lot of action, explosions, fights,  lightning, thunder and more.  Bessie did a great job of making these come to life and helped us to get a feel for the rhythm of the show.  Production Manager Stefanie Christensen, Costumer Barbara Young and Property Master Mike Christensen were there too and we began initial discussions on the look of the Creature (more on that in a future blog) and discussions how the sets will work—especially considering there are six locales from an alpine meadow to Victor’s lab to a ship bound for Capri.  And so, on to draft 11!  Writer David Halverstam once said writing and rewriting are like cleaning a dirty window, with every new draft the window gets cleaner and cleaner and we begin to see the truth more clearly as well.  For this new version of Frankenstein, I’m still “window cleaning” but I can definitely see this great story taking form through the still murky glass.  I now have about a month to finish the draft the actors will use when we go into rehearsal.  But it won’t be the last draft, generally two or three additional versions will be created during the rehearsal process.  So I guess it’s time to stop blogging and get to those rewrites.

Julian Wiles, playwright for the all new Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus. 


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