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News From The Rehearsal Room – Frankenstein

We sat down with Isabel Dixon, writer of ‘Frankenstein’ and Co-Artistic Director of Burn Bright Theatre to discuss inspiration for the show and why you should always back up your work…

How are rehearsals going?
Really well! It’s been fantastic to actually get the script on its feet and start playing with it. (Not least because I wrote most of it alone in my bedroom listening to horror film soundtracks to get me in the right mood.) The company we’ve assembled is a lovely group of past Burn Bright collaborators, people we’ve worked with elsewhere and have long wanted to bring into the company, plus brand new faces. A scarily talented mix.

Any big breakthroughs?
We’ve been playing with puppetry, which has been great. Frankenstein has a huge cast of characters, and we have an ensemble of five, so it’s been important to find some creative ways of creating the world of the play that don’t involve copious amounts of costume changes. The musical element of the show is also hugely exciting. Laura Kaye Thomson, our musical director, played us a rough outline of the show’s main theme a couple of weeks ago and it was my first speechless moment – all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. There’ll be plenty more of those before we’re done…

Any unexpected discoveries?
There’s so many bits of Frankenstein as a novel that are terrifying as a playwright to adapt. How on earth do you show a stitched together corpse suddenly coming back to life, for example? We’re using a very bare-bones approach with our adaptation; we’re known for our low-fi, intimate style. For this project we’ve also been inspired by horror shows like The Woman In Black, which keep the production values very low key and place the value on suspense and well-crafted narrative. So combining that production style with these epic moments has resulted in some very innovative storytelling. It’s amazing what you can do with a room of talented collaborators.

What’s your favourite moment in the show so far?
From an adaptation perspective, I’m totally fascinated by Justine’s story. She’s a servant in the Frankenstein household, and is wrongfully accused of murdering the youngest Frankenstein brother (a terrible crime actually committed by the Creature). The way she’s treated by both the religious orders and lawmakers of her time – who she’s put her trust in to protect her – is horribly resonant, and forces you to question who the real monsters actually are.

Any disasters?!
I had a horrible panic and thought I’d lost half a draft when my laptop crashed. First of all: always save as you go. Second of all: back everything up. (And finally, thank you to the Apple gods for their technological recovery know-how!)

What keeps you going in the rehearsal room?
Love for the novel, a passion for making theatre, the pressure to do Mary Shelley proud and copious amounts of Diet Coke.

Less then two weeks from opening night – how are you feeling?
Nervous – Katherine and I are also co-producing the show, as well as doing all the fun, creative directing and writing stuff – so it’s a lot of balls to juggle! We’ve been hugely passionate about this project throughout the process, from swapping notes and ideas while re-reading the novel last summer, to getting into the room and actually staging it – it’s felt like a very epic adventure.
But we can’t wait. Bring it on!

 

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