California State University, San Bernardino

“Frankenstein” awakens at CSUSB in March

The CSUSB Theatre Arts department will continue to present its 2017-18 play lineup themed Power & Control with its upcoming production of “Frankenstein.” Opening at the Barnes Theatre stage on March 9 and continuing its run on March 10, 15, 16, and 17 at 8 p.m. and March 11 and 18 at 2 p.m., this adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic tale will be directed by professor Tom Provenzano.

Having directed 20 plays over the course of his 24 years teaching at CSUSB, Provenzano has been wanting to direct this particular play for quite some time. Due to difficulties with obtaining the rights to the script of a pre-existing London production of Frankenstein, he decided he would write his own take on the iconic story.

“It’s adapted from [Mary Shelley’s] book, but it’s not just the story. It’s also a pre-story that explores the events that led her to write ‘Frankenstein’ in the first place,” Provenzano said.

Writing a script inspired from the classic work of literature required research on Shelley and the circumstances involving the creation of “Frankenstein.” The novel was originally written as part of an exercise among her poet husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and herself to see who could pen the best ghost story.

“What I didn’t know when I started writing the script was that this is actually the 200th anniversary of when the book was first released, so it’s definitely the right time to put on this play,” Provenzano said.

The theatre department’s adaptation of “Frankenstein” is currently still in the stages of rehearsal, but Provenzano assures that the production quality is well worth the amount of preparation and is designed to resemble that of a graphic novel in its movement.

“It’s a large show and we’re using a lot of projections, but we also have a number of sets moving around. We want to make the moving sets part of the story instead of pretending the changes aren’t happening,” Provenzano said. “There are students designing lights and helping with sound, so it’s a very student-oriented production.”

Keeping in the same spirit of the novel’s gothic roots, the director asserts that “Frankenstein” will be melodramatic and have some elements of horror, but ultimately, it will focus more on the people involved in the story. The production will also delve deeper into themes regarding how much power society gives to science.

“[The script] is more in keeping with the style of the literature certainly than with most movies that people would’ve seen about Frankenstein. I would say that 80 percent of the dialogue is either from the book or from quotations of famous people from that period,” Provenzano said.

The director credits working with young, promising actors as his favorite part of helming the production. He encourages students to see “Frankenstein,” as it shines light on the theatre art form.

“Students who go through this particular theatre program may not want to be actors, but usually what they do is they learn about other technical aspects, have a love for this kind of profession and they end up working in that field, which is very lucrative,” Provenzano said.

Tickets to “Frankenstein” can be purchased online at the CSUSB theatre website one month before opening night. General admission is $15, while CSUSB students and children aged five to 17 get in for $6. Senior adults aged 55 or older, scholarship donors, active military personnel, university faculty and staff and members of the CSUSB Alumni Association also receive a discount of $12.