Review Fix chats with George Allison and Cat Parker of “Dr. Frankenstein” to find out what inspired the compelling new production.
About the Production:
George Allison has created – not a monster – but a play about a monstrous story.
In it, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, his life’s work laid to waste by Mary Shelley‘s vindictive novel, summons an audience of ghosts from his mind to his operating theatre to present “his side of the story” in a bid to salvage his name and reputation.
This new riff on the classic tale is no adaption… it is an account from the real Dr. Frankenstein. Articulate Theatre allows him to set the record straight about his legacy, which, to him, was destroyed by Mary Shelley‘s “tall tale.” Mary Shelley created Frankenstein “from a dream;” Victor believes there was much more reality involved … his reality. What was meant to be a fictional exploit for millions, sent Frankenstein down a path of destruction in a story untold…until now. Tonight, he gets his revenge!
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this project?
George Allison, Playwright: I was returning home to NYC after doing a design job in China. It was a very long flight, with lots of time to think. I was reflecting on the news of the day which was filled with stories of people being accused of things, such as Al Franken and Brian Williams. And of course, Trump was filling social media with his own off-brand version of the “truth.” I started reflecting on the great stories that have been told over time, and which we have accepted as truth, and wondered about the real people involved in those stories and if the “truth” was the same for them. I have always been fascinated by the story of Frankenstein and his “creation” and so it was natural for my brain to wonder if Victor Frankenstein saw his “tale” the same way that Mary Shelley had depicted it. In my research, I came across so many fascinating real facts about the time frame that Shelley wrote her book, and some of the very real people who lived at that time. From there, the story just seemed to write itself!
Review Fix: What is your creative process?
Cat Parker, Director: George and I have very different processes, which makes for a challenging time, but ultimately means we give the story a full circle going over. He starts with a lot of research and ends up with a story; I start with the story and do research later in the process. He aims to tell a whopping good tale, and my goal is to build the best environment for the tale he creates. He builds from a wide range of inspiration to come to a specific story, and I take the specifics and build back out to connect the story with the audience. So, he’s an outside-in, big-to-little person, and I’m more inside-out, little-to-big person.
Review Fix: What did you learn/are learning about yourself through this process?
George: I’m learning that the old adage “Writing is easy, re-writing is hard” is the absolute truth! I’ve been working on this story for two years – writing, having readings, getting feedback, re-writing, listening, re-writing again, and again. I have been fortunate to have a very diverse and intelligent group of people weighing in on the script. They have helped me see the forest for the trees in many cases – making the script better each time.
Cat: I am learning more about developing a new work. I’m typically a pretty hands-off director when it comes to new plays. But working with George (who, full disclosure, is also my significant other) I have become very involved in the minutia of the play. It has been interesting to be more vocal about my thoughts on character development while a play is being created.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this piece for the future?
Cat: The November production is a developmental run, so we’re still learning about the play from a production perspective. We are incorporating projections and video, so it was important for us to have this early run for it, in order to see how the story works with all the production elements involved. So, the next step is for it to have an Off-Broadway run. The play’s story is universal, so it should appeal to a great many people, and the intimacy of Off-Broadway houses will provide the perfect setting for it.
George: Speaking of production, we are also researching, and are in conversation about, adding an element of augmented reality to the show. The technology has reached a point that an audience member can easily be given the ability to watch the show, see the actual, real actors as they perform, but also be able to see and hear additional details. It’s simply an amazing piece of technology, and -like Victor Frankenstein- we like to be on the cutting edge!
Review Fix: What’s next?
Cat: Next up for Articulate is a show at 59E59th. We’re not allowed to tell anyone about it until November 4th, but you can keep an eye on our website or Facebook page to learn more details. Or, sign up for our newsletter and have the “breaking news” delivered to your door!
George: Next up for me is switching my hat from playwright to designer, as I’ll be working with PBS and C-SPAN on various projects, and a couple of film projects are buzzing around, too. And, of course, continuing to develop and work toward our next steps with “Doctor Frankenstein.”