The St. Joseph’s Academy/Catholic High School Black Box Company presented its fall production, Frankenstein, November 2-5 in the Academy Arts Center Black Box Theater.
The play by Alexander Utz is adapted from Mary Shelley’s classic novel in which the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein is interwoven with elements of Shelley’s own life and the origin of the Frankenstein legend. As Mary tells the story to Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Dr. Polidori and Claire, the scenes are depicted onstage as Dr. Frankenstein, the Creature and the other characters come to life. Questions of morality and the dangers of disturbing nature are posed, leading audience members to the possible conclusion that perhaps the monsters we conjure are not always as inhuman as they seem.
This was the Black Box Company’s first performance under new director Lori Kaiser, who said she had serious concerns when the Black Box Board first presented the idea of bringing Frankenstein to the stage. She felt that a dark, complex period piece with multi-faceted characters and difficult technical aspects would be a tremendous challenge for high school students. “I had many questions but very few answers,” Kaiser admitted. “When rehearsals started, I was still plagued with questions and doubts, but I soon realized that these kids were serious. They had every intention of jumping every single hurdle. Over much time and many, many rehearsals, the doubts started melting away. I realized that I was working with some very special young people. The cast and crew became a solid, determined team that managed to have fun but still get the job done. The result was an impressive display of talent, hard work, dedication and tenacity.”
The part of Claire Clairmont was divided between sophomores Janie Elliot and Sophie Stelly.
“She was an amazing role to play,” Elliott said. “It was unlike any role I had played before because she is a real person who actually experienced what was going on in the play. I really loved playing her and getting to research her. She was an amazing person in real life and in the play.”
Stelly was equally enthusiastic about portraying Claire Clairmont. She also enjoyed working with the cast and crew to bring the story to life. “I enjoyed every part of this production,” she said. “It was my Black Box debut, so I am so proud to have been able to work on this show. This show will always have a special place in my heart due to the amazing people and awesome play we did. I really think that the audience loved all the jokes and hidden details in this play. There wasn’t a moment in the play where you didn’t wonder and think about what was going on.”
Junior Lillie Prescott was the sound technician for the production. “My favorite part about the show was working with such wonderful and talented people,” she said. “In the time we spent together, we all formed a bond that felt like a little family. The performances were received very well by the audience. Some of them remarked that the actors/actresses’ performances blew them away. I think that the play was a major success for the Black Box, and I can’t wait for people to see the spring musical.”
Kaiser said the show was a prime example of what is valuable about theater: bringing people together with a common goal. “It is a collaborative pursuit that challenges the mind and body,” she said. “It requires skills that will serve students in their daily lives, no matter what career they choose in the future. The SJA and CHS students came together to bring this all to fruition in every one of the six performances. They handled the job in front of them with much grace, and we all had an experience we will never forget. And that is another bonus we get with theater, memories that will last a lifetime.”
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Tracy Ducote