Since many people are going to have their first viewings of Frankenstein in June, I guess there might be some useful info to share before people watch the play/screenings.
The National Theatre has a platform on iTunes U, on which you can find the production Frankenstein on the right-hand sidebar, and subscribe it; it’s free. I would highly recommend the Q&A with Danny Boyle and Nick Dear, which is a 40-min insightful (guarantee it’s not boring at all) discussion re the play, and the pamphlet (PDF), which includes the synopsis of the play, Mary Shelley’s writing, rehearsal diary, Danny Boyle’s interview, Nick Dear’s interview and Costume Design Suttirat Anne Larlarb’s interview. The Q&A was held before the audience saw the play, so no spoilers. Besides, as the story was written almost about two hundred years ago, and there are reviews, reports, trailers, clips and gifs all over the internet since last February, I personally don’t consider anything is too spoilery, but if you don’t want to be exposed by any details of the play before actually seeing it, here is the BIG SPOILER ALERT!
Two interviews re casting worth reading:
Benedict and Danny Boyle’s interview with Metro published a few days before their first press night last Feb. (Benedict had a cold then):
“Cumberbatch, an actor of rare emotional intelligence on stage, and cerebral and charming in the flesh, is quick to bat away any audience preconceptions about how he and Miller might approach both roles. ‘I hate this distinction of me being some f***ing academic who has just managed to escape the allure of some postgraduate course, and Miller as this mad f***ing wild child with dyed hair from Trainspotting,’ he spits.
Boyle, for his part, draws no distinction at all. ‘I just wanted two stonking actors with the arrogance to feel no fear,’ he laughs.”
Danny Boyle’s interview with The Times:
“Casting Victor and the Creature was always going to be a gamble. But Benedict [Cumberbatch] and Jonny [Lee Miller] just feel right, in the same way that Hugh Grant just wouldn’t feel right. You literally can’t cast it with four combinations in mind, so you have to go for quality. You have to back their ability as lead actors. They have to have the ambition and talent to command the stage, particularly as it’s the Olivier Theatre. It’s a challenging stage, a huge, huge space and it can swallow up actors very easily.”
Nick Dear’s script can be purchased here: Amazon UK/ Amazon US
Underworld’s Frankenstein OST can be purchased here: underworldlive.com or iTunes UK /iTunes US
Transcript (by Cumberbatchweb) of the special late night Q&A with Benedict, Jonny and Danny Boyle for Dramatic Need: this is where I’ll give a HUGE SPOILER ALERT and definitely suggest reading it after seeing the play.
And, finally, here is the Frankenstein Rehearsal Diary from the pamphlet downloaded on iTunes U; I believe a lot of people who saw the play last year didn’t notice this diary, and for me, this is the most interesting info as we can have some insight on how the cast and crew developed the play:
(AGAIN SPOILER ALERT)
Danny and I met at the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School. Nick has been writing his version of Frankenstein for nearly fifteen years – I have heard a rumour he is on draft number 147! Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will alternate the roles of The Creature and Victor Frankenstein.
Over the years, he and Danny began to see aspects of the Creature’s character and situation as relating to autism.
Danny is keen for Benedict and Jonny to be able to meet children with autism and aspergers as part of their rehearsal process, so we went to the school to see whether this would be possible. The school was a wonderful place, and we met some of the students and teachers. Then back to the rehearsal room to meet up with Underworld, who will be composing the music for the production.
Rehearsal room one is big with a high ceiling, and its own revolve to imitate the space of the Olivier Theatre.
Danny suggests to Underworld the idea of a train representing Ingolstadt and the Industrial Revolution, to run down the central tracks from the Upstage doors and shoot out into the audience. Danny’s idea is that rather than taking the Creature outside onto the street, we bring the town to him. The train can have both live and recorded sound and be a powerful presence physically. We meet with Toby Sedgwick, the Director of Movement.
He is keen to begin work with Jonny and Benedict by exploring neutral mask. The Creature is an innocent. He is like an adult baby, with no sense of who he is or the world around him, and he must discover everything. Being able to start from a position of neutrality is a useful tool for this.
I join Alastair Coomer (Deputy Head of Casting) to meet some actors for parts which are yet to be cast, and for understudy roles.
Danny is keen to start immersing the actors in other elements of production as early as possible and we do a make-up test for the Creature. There is discussion about the pattern and size of the scarring but it is apparent that the concept for the Creature make-up is a work of art.