INTERVIEW: Timeworks Theatre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ahead of bringing theatre show Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation to various North East venues throughout October, we caught up with Timeworks Theatre to find out a bit more. You can also catch them at the following…

  • Thursday 18th October, The Castle Keep, Newcastle, 7.30pm
  • Friday 19th October, The Castle Keep, Newcastle, 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 24th October, The Exchange, North Shields, 7.30pm
  • Friday 26th October, Langley Castle, Northumberland, 7.30pm
  • Sunday 28th October, Crook Hall, Durham, 7.30pm
  • Monday 29th October, Crook Hall, Durham, 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 31st October, Arts Centre Washington, 7.30pm

Tell us about why you chose to perform Frankenstein?
All of Timeworks Theatre’s productions are based on anniversaries of one sort or another, so when we realised this year marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, it felt like an opportunity not to be missed.  For me personally, Frankenstein is a really exciting project as it has such an iconic standing in literature, and its content and themes are as relevant now as they were when it was first written.

What made you choose the venues you have to perform it in?
We felt strongly that the play lends itself to non-traditional spaces, especially heritage sites and venues with built-in atmosphere, so we looked specifically for venues that fitted this description. The Castle Keep in Newcastle, Crook Hall in Durham and Langley Castle all fitted the bill perfectly, and will make perfect settings for a Gothic story like Frankenstein. We also wanted to make sure we made the play accessible to diverse audiences, too, so we decided to mix in some traditional theatre spaces, which is why we’re also taking in Arts Centre Washington and The Exchange in North Shields on this tour.

What can we expect from this production?
Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation is a re-telling of the story of Frankenstein, as written by Mary Shelley, but from an unusual angle. The play includes Mary Shelley herself as one of the characters, and follows her creative process in thinking up the story, and how it develops as she interacts with her characters. We tell the full central story of the novel in the play, but with only three actors, and the result is an intense and powerful re-working of the story. 

What was imperative to keep the same from the original text?
We wanted very much to remain true to the original text as much as possible, which is why the play covers the central storyline of the novel so closely. So, it features Victor Frankenstein’s work in creating his Creature, and the full consequences that follow the Creature’s reanimation, covering the several years of narrative contained in the book, and using much of its original language and style. All of the original terror of the story is there.

And what have you changed?
The addition of Mary Shelley to the play and her interaction with the story represents a major shift in how the story is told, which we think gives the play a unique quality. More practically, as we only have three actors, some small details of the plot have been changed, such as the removal of some minor characters, but never in a way that compromises the tale. One thing we have focused on is making the character of Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s fiancée, a more powerful force in the story, which helps to bring out some of its key themes.

How did Timeworks Theatre come about?
Having worked with some very talented North East theatre companies and directors over the years, I felt compelled to start my own adventure, and so Timeworks was born.  As a theatre maker, I believe strongly in theatre that connects with people on a real level. Through Timeworks and its focus on stories connected to the past, I’m able to create work that has a strong grounding in reality, whilst still allowing for a great deal of creativity and imagination in its realisation.

What else has inspired this production?
We’ve been very keen to draw upon traditional Gothic moods and atmospheres in the play, and this is reflected in its use of language, costume and lighting. We’ve combined this with a more modern soundscape, though, using electronic sounds and effects, reflecting the scientific and progressive element of the story. Throughout the play, we draw very much on the theme of creation, both Victor Frankenstein’s creation of his Creature, and Mary’s creation of the story, and this is captured in the production in the content and the visuals.

What’s next for you?
Timeworks has several potential projects in the pipeline for 2019, all of them based on upcoming anniversaries.  Some of these projects are further adaptations of classic works of literature. Others are examples of new writing based upon anniversaries of historical events.

Timeworks Theatre bring Frankenstein: A Gothic Creation to various North East venues throughout October.

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