Friday, 10 July 2015

Frankenstein Dramaturgy: Linda McInerney @ Edfringe 2015

 Linda McInerney, Artistic Director of Old Deerfield Productions: Linda McInerney is the Commissioner, Director and Producer of Frankenstein. Linda has been working professionally in the theatre for over thirty years as an actor, director, teacher, producer, and artistic director. She has an MFA from the University of Massachusetts and a BA in Theatre and French from Middlebury College. She also attended the National Shakespeare Company Conservatory.

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
The state of our world inspired the creation of our adaptation of

FRANKENSTEIN. Crumbling coral reefs, flaming faucets, melting icecaps, marooned polar bears, syncopated earthquakes, assassinated elephants, amputated sharks, drying aquifers, gyring garbage islands, shrinking freedoms of women, blacks, the disappearing middle-class, ALL OF IT! What do we do? Where do we begin? And why have we done this to ourselves?

It is the job of the artist to wrestle with our problems, dig into what made them, and frame them in ways that give us the opportunity to evolve into the next place. And if we blow it this time, our species goes down. Time to shake it up with a wildly entertaining bitch slap of a story.

I spent over a year searching for material that expressed the feelings that overwhelm me. I wanted to find a story that offers insight into why we got here and how we get out. I wanted to track a human spirit through the journey that our earth is going through right now and dig into that dirt to find out the wherefores and the what nows. And I wanted a shockingly dramatic story that would grab the audience by the balls and propel them through every possible emotion while filling them with ideas and questions about themselves and their world.

When I reread FRANKENSTEIN I knew that I had found it. The depth of the story and the relevance for now just hit me like a thunderbolt. The Creature, a pure being, transformed by suffering to become a monster. And the writer, a woman who never was allowed the life and celebration she deserved. When I commissioned Lindel Hart to adapt it and perform the leading role he understood and accepted immediately. And we have had the time of our lives working together on this project. It has been a creative joy from the very first day together. We have reveled in the intimacy of collaboration, of digging as deeply as we could into each word, each idea, each bit of Shelley’s life. 

Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
The way we like to create is through a kind of interconnectedness, where it doesn’t matter where the idea comes from. It’s as if the idea is self generating and we are simply the conduits. That said, no one works harder than Lindel Hart.

 He spent thousands of hours on Shelley’s novel, on her original source materials, books about her and her world. My favorite image is of hundreds of 3 by 5 cards spread all around the floor filled with bits and pieces that were important and watching him arrange them. Really what we do is dream together. And even rehearsal is like dreaming together. It’s like a pure state of creation.

So, distilled to 55 minutes, Lindel’s version of Shelley’s story takes use on an unforgettable roller coaster ride through the life experiences of the Creature. We follow his birth, his rejection by his father, his abuse and mounting rage, and his superhuman travels around the world, ending on an Arctic ice floe as he relentlessly seeks connection with his creator/father, Victor Frankenstein.

And all of this is done with only three actors. Lindel Hart, the writer of the adaptation, plays the Creature. Colin Allen plays all of the male characters, Frankenstein, the old man, Delacey, the little boy, William, and Jane Williams plays Mary Shelley, who is woven throughout the story, as well as Frankenstein’s fiancee, Elizabeth. Florian Canga, from Albania, has created a sound and projection design that frames the entire world in a post-modern installation of images, animations, and video that cradle the piece in an unexpected and visually stunning nest.

We wanted to stay with the story as written but blast it into a modern reframe through the action, actors, and video/sound design. And one of the most arresting production elements is the makeup design for the Creature. Designed by Broadway makeup artist, Joe Dulude II (Wicked, etc) the full body makeup design is exquisite and horrifying at the same time. I don’t want to give to much away so we will let the audience discover that for themselves.

By highlighting the prescience of Shelley’s novel, we hope to further the process of changing our story from one that sanctions dominance over nature to the new story of interconnectedness that allows the human race to thrive in respectful relationship with the planet.

What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work - have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
I love the work of Robert LePage. I love Anne Bogart, I love Pina Bausch. And I love the process of creation, finding impulses, unexpected emotions, physical shapes and movements, abstract ways that concrete ideas can be expressed in embodied ways. We have had so much fun creating this piece in a highly collaborative way. Every step has been a collaboration. We have a family of artists who really love the work and love each other and it has been an absolute joy from top to tail. We all are working toward discovery how we can be pressed to go through this deeply human experience in exciting new ways. I believe that Art helps us to reframe our thoughts and actions by showing us what is possible. It helps us think in new ways by illuminating the implications of our history and guides us to live differently by showing us our perceived stories through new lenses.
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is most important Fringe Festival in the world. To perform here gives us an opportunity to share our work with a wider public than anywhere else. With luck, we get to present FRANKENSTEIN to international producers who could allow us to share the story further. And we might get to be reviewed and seen by important journalists from the UK. We are honored that we have already been named one of FIVE MUST SEE productions of the Fringe by The Scotsman. How can we not be thrilled with this chance to perform FRANKENSTEIN?

To view a documentary about the creation of this production of Frankenstein:

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