September 19, 2002

It's Alive!

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Something has come over Ithaca, something terrifying. We’re still well over a month away from Halloween, and yet one name has been on everyone’s lips, one face in everyone’s head. From Cornell Cinema to the Kitchen Theater, to an entire incoming class of freshmen, it seems that the Frankenstein monster has taken hold of Ithaca — nearly 200 years after his creation.

Last spring, Cornell administrators announced that for the second annual freshman reading project, all incoming freshmen would be required to read Shelley’s novel. With strong thematic elements that parallel our society’s current ethical struggles with cloning and technology, Frankenstein seemed like a perfectly logical choice for the project. At a university so focused on technology and the sciences, Shelley’s work seemed an apropos, if ironic, decision.

As all freshmen on this campus are by now fully aware, the Frankenstein we grew up with is a far cry from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s original vision. Indeed, the square-headed, green-faced, bolt-necked buffoon seen in so many Hollywood productions is not at all like the thoughtful and tortured character Shelley created in her novel (who knew the dude read Goethe and longed for a father figure?). But Shelley’s original story — which has it’s roots in a dream experienced by the author nearly 200 years ago — has grown into not only a Hollywood staple, but an icon that’s recognized around the world.

But if there’s one place to get a Frankenstein fix this month, it’s Ithaca. We recently headed out to see what the fuss was about. Here’s what we found:

Frankenstein Hits The Stage of The Kitchen Theatre:

An Interview with Writer, Director, & Producer

Rachel Lampert

daze: What prompted you to write and then stage a tale like Frankenstein, a story that’s so well known by so many people?

Rachel Lampert: It was a bit of a commission, I would say. A couple of our board members also serve on the library board and are active up at Cornell. So, last spring when the decision was made that every freshman was going to read Frankenstein, our board said, “It’d be so great if we could do a Frankenstein play.”

What flashed in front of my mind was a memory of a musical version of Frankenstein that lasted one night in New York City