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Insiders Recap: Frankenstein


Pictured: Kasey Mahaffy and Michael Manuel. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

By A Noise Within
August 30, 2019

Here at A Noise Within, we were very excited to kick off our new season of Insiders sessions with our discussion of Frankenstein on August 27th. Our guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Fuson Wang of the University of California Riverside, who specializes in British Romantic Literature and happens to be an expert on the life and works of Mary Shelley. The conference room was jam-packed with attendees, and for many, this was their first time attending an Insiders meeting! We even had a few members from a local Academic Decathlon team, who are currently studying Frankenstein as a text for the competition.

After filling their plates with cookies, the group delved into a fascinating and in-depth discussion of Mary Shelley’s original text and how it compares to Nick Dear’s adaptation. Some initial questions that we pondered were, “Is this story overrated?” and “If not, what do you find valuable about it?” The overwhelming response from the group was that this story is not overrated – it has themes that carry through to today, and it continues to lend itself to various adaptations. The most pertinent theme that seemed to carry through for everyone was, “Just because we can, should we?” This was a question that was clearly in play for Victor and his Creature, and we discussed what examples we see of this today, as technology continues to advance society.

Dr. Wang then challenged the group to dispel some common misconceptions of Frankenstein, including some tropes that some adaptations tend to perpetuate. We talked about the Creature in particular, and how Shelley writes him to be introspective, articulate, and intelligent, and how movies and staged shows don’t necessarily portray him in this way. After several more riveting conversations, including more backstory on Shelley herself, and the historical context of the text, we finally landed on the thesis of the discussion – that perhaps Frankenstein itself is a moral novel that refuses a moral, and an unstageable novel that is begging to be staged. We ended the evening with a wrap up of A Noise Within’s production – everyone agreed that Michael Michetti’s production is not one to be missed – it is both tender and spectacular, and though it may differ from the source material, it does so in a way that enhances the meat of the story.

Interested in joining us for an Insider event? Each session is just $35 per person and includes refreshments! Contact our Education Manager, Rebecca Wilson, at rwilson@anoisewithin.org to sign up today!

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