Found Stages Uses Unique Process To Create Frankenstein's Funeral
Found Stages' Frankenstein's Funeral is an immersive experience that takes place Oct. 4_Nov. 3, 2019 at St. John's Lutheran Church-a historic Atlanta home once known as Stonehenge Mansion, converted into a church in 1959.
Frankenstein's Funeral began as creator/writer/director, Nichole Palmietto's brainchild at the beginning of 2018. She immediately brought Found Stages' Playwrights in Residence on board. Neeley Gossett, Annie Harrison Elliot, and Addae Moon had collaborated with Palmietto in the past. While it is almost unheard of for a project to have four playwrights, Palmietto knew that the immersive play would work best as a collaboration between multiple artists.
The collaboration included dividing up the plot and characters in the following ways playing off of each playwrights' expertise: Palmietto created the plot and outlined the scenes; Gossett, a professor, wrote Victor Frankenstein's scenes; Harrison Elliot, an expert on feminism, wrote Mary Shelley; and Moon, a science fiction buff, wrote The Monster's story.
Moon, Harrison Elliot, and Gossett began their partnership in 2015 when they wrote an immersive adaptation of the Joy Luck Club, in which audience members played Mahjong with the characters. It premiered at 7 Stages' Curious Encounters. Palmietto directed and curated the production. The four artists continued creating theatre together when they received the prestigious Reiser Atlanta Artist Lab at the Alliance Theatre, again with Nichole at the helm of the ship and the others as playwrights.
Playwright Neeley Gossett discusses the groups writing methods. "We work together like Television writers. Nichole outlines the plot, then Annie, Addae, and I each write the scenes for our characters. Our writing and voices fit together naturally. We are all willing to drop our egos and work for the greater good of the script."
Found Stages also began working with composer Chris Gravely, chorographer Angela Harris, costume designer Jennifer Schottstaedt, and graphic designer Brad Fairchild upon the projects inception. Through workshops, rehearsal, showcases and retreats, this team of eight spent a year- and-a-half fine tuning the play with a group of actors. The project is now comprised of twenty-six Atlanta artists who have all worked on the play's development.
"The way that the company has taken time and care during the developmental stage to workshop and re-write the story has created an experience that is challenging our audiences and evoking depth," says composer Chris Gravely.
Costume designer, Jennifer Schottstaedt, who was recently nominated for the 2019 Suzi Bass Award in Costume Design speaks about her process. "The year we spent growing this show was a gift. I couldn't have done all of this work with a normal 4 or 6-week turnaround. Fiber art is gorgeous, but it's so intricate and involves so many layers that the true cost is time."
Choreographer, Angela Harris also reflects on the length of the project. "We have had time to workshop ideas and try different iterations of the show. I appreciate the time to really flush out a story and an experience."
In addition to a unique process, Found Stages offers an intimate experience for an audience of only forty people, which is groundbreaking. The audience becomes part of the story, following the actors through different rooms of the mansion and interacting with them.
Frankenstein's Funeral is a companion piece to Found Stages' New Year's Eve Frankenstein's Ball. These two immersive experiences offer unique explorations of Mary Shelley's novel (Frankenstein's Funeral) and the real-life drama that influenced her writing (Frankenstein's Ball).
Tickets are available online at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/found-stages-18287682913?ct=t%28Frankenstein%27s+Ball_COPY_01%29