Posted November 8, 2021
An adaptation of the Frankenstein story by Mary Shelley has been staged and filmed by students at UW-River Falls.
The Stage and Screen Arts (SASA) Program’s presentation of “Mary Frankenstein” differs from plays put on in the past at the university. The performance was filmed for the screen rather than a live audience. This was done as a COVID-19 preventative measure, said Director Kathy Welch, a visiting assistant professor.
The 47-minute video can be viewed on YouTube at youtu.be/SOduHRu3pSA.
Welch said the idea of performing the play for the screen came from wanting to do something different. SASA wanted to take the opportunity to use special and practical effects. Performing for the screen also allowed students to learn about other production aspects, Welch said.
“We wanted something for the actors, something kind of meaty for the actors to dig into. But we also have a lot of students that are interested in various other production aspects,” Welch said.
Welch began writing the adaptation during summer 2020. Writing the adaptation wasn’t difficult because she had written one for “Frankenstein” in 2017 so all that was needed were a few tweaks, which took three to four weeks. After the writing was complete production began in the fall, but the program ran into problems in creating the sets and scenes. Additionally, the uncertainty around the pandemic amplified the delay, Welch said. When pre-production was completed in February, the crew began shooting the play. In March the play went into postproduction before being screened in early September. Later that month it premiered for streaming on YouTube.
“It was a long process but ultimately the students did a good job,” Welch said.
To Welch, the most interesting aspect of the film was the collaboration between students. Welch said the play had involvement from both the stage and screen parts of the SASA program. It allowed students to exchange ideas and collaborate, she added.
“There’s either the stage or the screen and this was literally a marriage of the two sides of our department and so that was great fun,” Welch said.
For Welch the hardest part of being director was the learning curve of the transition from stage to screen. Welch added it was difficult for students to “pull things back” and not overact. Another difficulty was making the switch in language as the original play was written formally while Welch’s adaptation was written to sound more realistic.
Welch’s favorite part of the play was working in post-production.
“The thing that was real different for me from working on a stage play is the editing process, the whole post-production process,” Welch said. “It’s kind of a second chance to direct the piece.”
Recently the SASA program presented William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” using the same streaming style. Welch said the program plans to use streaming for future performances. One-act plays are planned for December.