BWW Interview: Ember Reynolds, Elisha Summers, Kevin Shipp, Katharine Nelson, Falon Scott of I AM FRANKENSTEIN at Maumelle High School Performing Arts Center
Just in time for Halloween, Maumelle High School will be presenting I AM FRANKENSTEIN, an adaptation from Arkansas playwright John Haman, Thursday, Oct. 31, and Friday, Nov. 1. "It's the story of two tortured creatures," says Haman. "Victor's famous monster, and the novel's troubled author, Mary Shelley." I was privileged to sit in on a rehearsal and speak with some of the actors bringing this show to life.
BWW: Were you familiar with Frankenstein before this?
Falon Scott (Elizabeth Frankenstein): You know the water-downed version you see on Disney?
Katharine Nelson (Mary Shelley): I've seen the...like the electricity "he's alive"!
Ember Reynolds Professor (Krempe/Blackbird): I read the book.
Elisha Summers (Victor Frankenstein): I read the book after we read through the first read through. Like I'm interested in the story now, so I went back and read the book. And John Haman changed a lot to take poetic liberties, but it comes at it in a whole different way.
Reynolds: He (Haman) really flushes it out in a good way. It gives you an inside, because how he does it, he uses Mary Shelley as a framing device and the blackbirds as the chorus to help explain emotions and freak everyone out.
Nelson: Just generally throughout the entire play, Mary just occasionally shows up. Like every time she shows up, it's kind of like (she's) pushing herself into the story to tell it.
When asked by the director what it means to do an important piece of literature instead of the normal plays in the past, the cast responded saying...
Scott: To me it's been a challenge, because I'm use to being comedic. I'm used to playing the ditzy little girl, and it's been a real challenge to put all of this emotion that another character in a different story already had.
Summers: For me it's a whole different experience in doing the comedies....It's a big shift from what we've done in the past, and it's really stretched my range as an actor. There are moments when I don't have to get into character, because I'm already scared to death on stage. I've never been in character at this level before, and it has really shaped how I think of acting in general.
Reynolds: So, in all the plays that I've ever been in besides the plays I've been cast in recently, I'm always the kid character- you can tell I have a baby face. I'm always the little girl; I'm always a funny, ditzy character. I'm still a funny, ditzy character, but I'm fat this time and a French guy. It's kind of a change to be a blackbird, because I get to actually creep people out, which is something I really like to do.
Nelson: So, this is only the second play I've ever done at this school, so it's a very big change to suddenly go from Chicken Licken to Mary. I'm still developing, so I think it's not as much of a shock to the system like everyone else has been, because I'm still developing as an actor. It's just, kind of, a new lesson for me, rather than I'm used to this and now I'm doing this.
Summers: She's like 'oh, it's another thing I'm not used to yet.
Nelson: It's been a big learning experience, but I'm really enjoying it, because I've gotten to try (it out). I really like the more serious storytelling rather than the comedic stuff, because with the comedic stuff it is more relaxed nd there is less on the line. Being more serious really give you more of a chance to show what you can do as an actor, and it's really fun and challenging.
Kevin Shipp (The Creature): Honestly, this is my first time acting EVER....I wish I had more time. This is like a big, big experience for me. It's super fun.
This show is directed by Bob Birdsong and will be presented in the 1200 seat auditorium at Maumelle High School performing Arts Center. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, visit their Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/2119966721633273/