The beasts within man

Frankenstein and Antigone revealed horrors of mankind.


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This past weekend the Hamline community had a chance to witness the reimagining of two classic stories.

Adaptor, choreographer and director Grace Barnstead’s Frankenstein and director Joe Hendren’s Antigone were performed as a double feature as both directors’ senior capstones.

“I’ve never directed in a college setting before so working exclusively with college age actors was a very different experience,” Hendren said.”The cast was fantastic to work with.”

Although contemporary in many regards, Hendren was really interested in exploring some more classical theater devices in Antigone.

“I’m really interested in exploring the ritual origins of theater,” Hendren said. “Bertolt Brecht is extremely influential in modern theater so I wanted a chance to explore some of his techniques and his approach to theater.”

A more compelling component of Hendren’s production was the use of chalk by the actors.

“I wanted to take something that seemed standard in the world of the play, Creon’s world, and then disrupt that and have the people who were protesting against Creon… and disillusioned by the war… turn it around against him and use it as counter-propaganda against Creon,” Hendren said.

As easy as it can be to get caught up in the world Hendren crafted, he hopes that viewers did not get too lost and even took measures to make sure they could not escape completely by including static in the background of most of the performance.

“We did that to highlight a Brechtian technique called ‘distancing effect’ in which you don’t want the audience to be passive viewers of the show. You want to engage them and challenge them and call them to respond or react in some way… allow them the chance to step back and react in some way,” Hendren said.

Barnstead had the same goal for her production. While the story of Frankenstein is well-known throughout our culture, Barnstead wanted to explore more contemporary elements of the story.

“Conceptually for me it was about looking at othering and the way that people make monsters of other people just because they’re different or they can’t control them. Victor Frankenstein is the embodiment of that toxic type of thinking,” Barnstead said.

While Hendren’s production was very classic in presentation, Barnstead instead presented a movement piece.

“I’m intrigued by stories you can tell just by body language… I wanted to challenge myself to produce a show that was accessible to a wide variety of audiences,” Barnstead said.

This required a lot of dedication and vulnerability within Barnstead’s cast.

“I directed and blocked it but it was a collaborative work. The actors put in a lot of time and energy and some scenes they choreographed completely themselves and I just blocked it,” Barnstead said.  

Barnstead highlighted the work of her Production Designer, sophomore Jackson Cobb, in helping to convey her message through projection work.

“The whole idea with it was to show externally Victor’s own internal conflict and show his distorted view of the world,” Cobb said.

Barnstead’s overall goal was to show how thinking like Victor is detrimental.  

“I wanted the audience to connect with the Creature so much so that they were appalled by Victor’s actions,” Barnstead said. “The deaths are the parts that I wanted to be the most rooted in realism… because Victor’s kind of mindset and thinking hurts and potentially kills people.”


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