MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
adapted by Nick Dear
kept sold-out audiences
on the edge of their seats
in October, 2014.
Eureka Center Warehouse
at the Granary
Directed by Jesús Quintero
Produced by Julie Berreth
Photos by Audra Mearns
Local Cast Mounts Creepy Horror Classic
By DAVID GUNTER
Bonner County Daily Bee
OCTOBER 19, 2014, SANDPOINT, ID – The rehearsal space is cavernous and cold, leaving the actors bundled up as they work through their scenes. IN the background, crews erect heating towers to beat back the chill.
At the same time, stage technician Dave Nygren makes notes on where he will build trusses and hang lights to chase shadows out of some corners while allowing them to seep into others like a dark fog.
In the middle of it all, American Laboratory Theatre director Jesús Quintero moves in and out of the scene before him, attacking artifice where he sees it, encouraging true intention in speed and movement alike. He leads two of his actors through one key section of the script several times in a row – whittling, streamlining, focusing until the dialog crackles with intensity.
Perched high above the action – his head nearly straffing the rafters – musician Eddie McDonnell peers down at the stage as he plays an original score on both acoustic and electric bass. The low frequency is perfectly matched to the edgy tone of the play, sometimes lumbering and other times lunging wildly forward as it lashes one scene to the next.
The troupe is one week away from opening night for Mary Shelley’s classic, “Frankenstein.” Scheduled to run through Halloween in the Warehouse at the Granary, just across the parking lot from Evans Bros. Coffee, the play includes a younger cast of 12 actors in age from 10-24.
But according to the director, there is a 13th member of this cast.
“To me, the space itself is like a character,” Quintero said of the decidedly industrial venue he selected for the production. “Doing the play in a warehouse influences people’s senses in a different way. The warehouse is like an underground laboratory of the senses.”
It’s an opportunity to attract audiences that might not be prone to show up at more conventional venues, he added.
“If the people aren’t going to theatre, we’ll bring theatre to the people,” said the director.
The play, which is being produced by American Laboratory Theatre and presented by Sandpoint Onstage, also opens the door for McDonnell to share two very different sides of his musical personality.
“Jesús asked me to come in and help with this because of my heavy metal background on bass,” he said. “But I also play classical-style bass. For years, I’ve wanted to try something like this with my music and the play gives me a chance to do that.”
“All the shows we do are a journey,” Quintero said. “Eddie is not just a good musician, but a musician who wants to use the bass in a different way. Frankenstein can be interesting for a young audience, so I thought the music should be something that’s exciting.”
Part of the excitement, naturally, comes with mounting a creepy play during the Halloween season.
“Of course, I chose the timing of ‘Frankenstein’ and Eddie’s powerful music,” Quintero said. “But it’s also the idea that you can have something that’s highly entertaining while being highly artistic.”
Enter Frankenstein’s Monster. In this rendering of the script, the creature has neither a green face, nor a flat head. Instead, he is a walking crash course in the complexities of human nature.
“We are approaching this in a different way,” said the director, adding that theatre has for too long been saddled with the ancient Greek perspective that beauty represents good, while ugliness depicts all things bad.
As the play runs its course, Quintero leaves it open to the viewer to decide what is beautiful and what is ugly, as well as which the character harbors more humanity. Dr. Frankenstein himself or his eponymous monster.
Asked if directing the character of the creature – imbued, as it is, with the lasting stamp of Boris Karloff’s 1931 movie performance – presents a difficult task, the director said he had to look no farther than what it’s like to be a man from Colombia who now lives in the United States.
“It has to do with my experience as an immigrant in America,” he said, adding that being different many times means being viewed as potentially dangerous. “Everywhere I go, I’m seen as what I look like or my thick accent. We, as a society, create our monsters. The creature is judged by what he looks like, without having done anything.”
The American Laboratory Theatre production of “Frankenstein” will be performed on Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, and again on Thursday and Friday, October 30 and 31. All shows start at 7:30pm.
Tickets are $12 adults, $10 students and seniors, available in advance at Eve’s Leaves and online at www.sandpointonstage.com.