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Frankenstein: An Act of Creation
IPFW’s Department of Theater opens its 2017-18 season with a unique offering
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
Almost anyone who has taken a high school English course probably recalls a little of the story behind Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. As befitting the book’s subject matter, Frankenstein was first conceived on a dark and stormy night in Switzerland, the result of a “competition” between Mary, her future husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and a writer and doctor named John Polidori to see who could write the best horror story.
That’s the myth and legend anyway, and whatever other works came from that competition, it’s Shelley’s Frankenstein that endures. One of the reasons it has done so is that almost any era can see its own hopes and anxieties in the story’s themes. Even in the films, which portray Frankenstein’s creation as a shambling, grunting monster (a far cry from “the creature” of the novel, who is quite articulate for a reanimated corpse), some of the original’s basic themes remain — the responsibility of a creator to their creation, the unintended consequences of power.
With such rich and complex subject matter, Frankenstein became the skeletal building block around which IPFW Associate Professor Jeff Casazza wanted to “create” a performance piece. Frankenstein: An Act of Creation opens at Williams Theatre on Friday, October 6 and runs through October 14.
The process is called “devised theater.” The phrase might make you think of improvisation or performance art, but while devised theater incorporates some elements of those techniques, it’s actually different. In devised theater, the improvisation comes during the creation process. There’s usually a framework or a story to start with, but no formal script. The scenes and dialogue are developed by the actors, and the “final product” that the audience sees on stage is a result of that collaborative process.
Several key components need to come together to create a devised theatre piece and, as Casazza writes in his director’s notes, those avenues of creativity flourish at IPFW in the Department of Theatre. The recipe consists of a theme that can be expressed from multiple viewpoints; a director who has worked on other devised theatre pieces in their career; trained student actors who have experience writing and creating in an improvisational format; and a group of flexible faculty designers who can design lights, sounds, costumes and set pieces as the performance takes shape during the rehearsal process.
Creation stories are part of every culture and religion, but what other avenues of creation exist in our world? That is exactly what the actors of IPFW’s Frankenstein: An Act of Creation set out to explore. In reality, humans are creating things every day, from a child created between two individuals, to writers creating novels, to paintings created by artists, to an exquisite meal created by a chef. When Victor Frankenstein creates his Creature, it is not much different from what is happening today with cloning, gene splicing, in vitro fertilization, or defibrillators that use electricity to bring an inanimate body back to life.
Devised pieces work to ask questions that are essential to the investigation on stage. For example, what is the responsibility of the creator to the created? Is there any responsibility at all? Or with that great power is there also great responsibility?
And what about the reverse? Does the created have any responsibility to its creator, whatever that might be? The investigations of, rather than the answers to these questions have become the production Frankenstein: An Act of Creation.
IPFW Department of Theater presents Frankenstein: An Act of Creation.
Fridays, October 6 and 13 at 8 PM
Sunday, October 8 at 2 PM
Thursday October 12 at 8 PM
Saturdays, October 7 and 14 at 8 PM
Tickets: $5 IPFW Students/ High School Students/Children Under 18
All others — $16 and under
IPFW Box Office
Purchase Tickets Online at ipfw.edu/tickets
Purchase Tickets by Phone or in Person_260-481-6555_TTD: 260-481-4105
Box office located in the Gates Athletic Center, Room 126. Open Monday – Friday, 12:30 – 6:30 p.m.