A Noise Within (ANW), California’s acclaimed classic repertory theatre company, is proud to announce the California Premiere of Nick Dear’s Frankenstein , directed by Michael Michetti and adapted from the original novel by Mary Shelley. The first play of ANW’s 2019-2020 season, THEY PLAYED WITH FIRE, will run as a stand-alone production from Aug. 11 through Sept. 8, 2019. An instant international sensation, Frankenstein was first captured live in 2011 on London’s National Theatre stage in celebration of the novel’s 200th anniversary. Distributed to cinemas across the globe, the original production was directed by Academy Award®-winner Danny Boyle and starred Benedict Cumberbatch alternating between the roles of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the Creature.
This electrifying tale of a creature cast away by his creator into a hostile world—only to wind his way back in a dangerous game of destruction—has captivated audiences for over 200 years. The gothic story comes to life with Nick Dear’s adaptation of the chilling fable by Mary Shelley, animating the themes of social rejection, intellectual hubris, and the nascency of good and evil.
Director Michael Michetti said, “By telling the story from the point of view of the Creature, this highly theatrical adaptation of Mary Shelley’s beloved novel delivers not only the terror we expect from the story, but a surprisingly thoughtful and moving exploration of society’s role in teaching and perpetuating violence.”
Frankenstein represents one of the largest and most complex productions that ANW has undertaken to date. To bring the Creature to life, Director Michael Michetti worked closely with Movement Director and Assistant Director Rhonda Kohl in an extensive week-long rehearsal, titled “Creature Week,” focused on the movement of the Creature with actor Michael Manuel, who previously performed as Iago in ANW’s production of Othello and will play the Creature in this production.
“The Creature’s physicality is an important element of the production because movement and non-verbal communication are the only way the Creature can express himself through the first part of the play,” explained Movement Director and Assistant Director Rhonda Kohl. “We had to ‘unlearn’ what we knew about how developed humans behave, and we discovered how our version of an innocent creature instinctually interacts and kinetically communicates with the world. Frankenstein takes beautiful, bold theatrical risks and invites audiences to emotionally connect with the Creature, starting with his birth on stage and re-discovering the world through his eyes.”
“Creature Week” has been made possible with the generous support of the David Lee Foundation for ANW’s production. In addition to the week-long movement-centric rehearsal for the Creature, Frankenstein will feature spectacular makeup and prosthetics by Shannon Hutchins and Angela Santori and add enhancements to the production that will create a deeply moving experience for the play’s California premiere. The David Lee Foundation aims to support, enhance and promote Los Angeles area professional theater and to encourage the production of plays and musicals that might otherwise be overlooked because of financial considerations.
To enrich the themes of the play, Noise Now is opening a Mexican Monster exhibit featuring the artwork of print-maker Daniel González. The exhibit will run Aug. 11 to Sept. 8 during the run of Frankenstein .
Daniel González shared: “My life has been shared between two countries, the United States and Mexico. I am aware of the reality that an ethnic and racial border exists between people. We are told we don’t belong here, that we are alien to this country when nothing could be further from the truth. Culture does not honor borders. I feel that it is my responsibility as a print-maker to be a vehicle not only for culture but to also inspire a sensibility of the creative as a formidable weapon for social justice. My work records, through images, stories grandmothers tell of guardian angels by bedsides, of the devil dancing on roof tops, stories of hardships past when things seemed dark and uncertain. Each piece I make is a voice to memory, an artistic artifact recalling old words that fade with time, a celebration of the survival of a culture.”
ANW’s Words Within reading series will also tie into the themes of Frankenstein by presenting the first reading of the new season, Bloody Poetry by Howard Benton on Monday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. An elegiac and fiery play about poetry and failed utopias, Bloody Poetry follows Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, and their lovers Mary Shelley and Claire Clairemont, into exile and stages the famous biographical events of the writers’ lives—the meeting of Shelley and Byron and the stormy night when Frankenstein was conceived. The reading is free to attend, but reservations are strongly encouraged.
The official 2019-2020 national Academic Decathlon literature selection is Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein ; as a result, local Southern California area competing student teams have a rare opportunity to see a professional production of a faithful stage adaptation of the novel at A Noise Within. Students from Los Angeles and from Pasadena, Victorville, Antelope Valley, Redlands, Rialto, Rowland Heights, Oxnard, Torrance, Montebello, Santa Clarita, Bellflower, Glendale, Bakersfield, Hemet, Santa Ana, and Palos Verdes Peninsula are attending the show at both special student performances and regular performances.
The 2019-2020 United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) theme is “In Sickness and in Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness.” Decathlon students must familiarize themselves with the scientific and cultural contexts of Frankenstein —including materialism vs. vitalism, monsters, body snatching and grave robbing, reanimation, and resurrection.
Single ticket prices for Frankenstein start at $25 and are available at anoisewithin.org, by phone at 626-356-3121, and at the box office located at 3352 East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena, Calif. Frankenstein features scenes of violence and is recommended for audiences ages 10 years and older.