Blair Academy Players & Faculty Collaborate in Frankenstein 2029

Posted: May 11, 2017

The Blair Academy Players will take the stage for a final time this year in the second-ever production of Frankenstein 2029, an immersive, multimedia and interdisciplinary theatrical experience with a central plot that pivots on that of Mary Shelley’s original Gothic science fiction novel. The show opens Thursday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m., and will loop twice nightly (the second loop begins around 8:15 p.m.). The Players will return to the stage again on May 19 and 20 for two more showings each night. The show takes place in and around Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts and has rolling admission. Reservations are not necessary to view the show.

Throughout the production, the audience will watch the Players superimpose a cautionary tale of technology-induced hubris in the not-so-distant future over Mary Shelley’s 19th-century Frankenstein. As audience members move throughout the many scenes of the play at seven different locations within Armstrong-Hipkins, they will witness a story that transcends time, as the plot explores Shelley’s original storyline with Victor Frankenstein (portrayed by Taylor Attix ’17) bringing life to his Creature (played by Harry Moore ’17) before fast-forwarding several hundred years’ time to a futuristic, technology-based world in which Frankie (the future Victor Frankenstein played by Kendrick Ng-Yow ’19) runs a “functional body art” laboratory, called Victor Neurotech, and Prometheus (the future Creature played by Liam Heino ’17) is still less of a monster and more of a protagonist, aiming to point out the many ethical, biological and psychological issues with using technology to alter your DNA and body.

Many other students and teachers will appear throughout the show, including Montana Carson ’20, Irena Panchenkova ’19, Max Bonzulak ’17, Eric Meskin ’17, Liam Cory ’19, Chris Liu ’17, Jakub Sudol ’17, John Dragonetti ’19, Mekhi Holley ’17, Zeynep Cavusoglu ’18, Audrey Sacks ’20, Victoria Crow ’20, Sophia Festa ’18, Teddy Balestro ’19, Tiara Myrie ’18, Aavya de Silva ’20, Jane Fitzpatrick ’17, Daiden Kent ’18, Junub Chuol ’18, Dirk Daniels ’19 and Matt Turner ’17, English teacher Tom Parauda, language teacher Joyce Lang, English and theatre teacher Craig Evans, science teacher Rob Merrifield, and Director of Vocal Music Ryan Manni.

‘We can do this at Blair’

Frankenstein 2029 is the product of a course at nearby Lafayette College, Ms. McMillan’s alma mater. Her former professor and mentor, Suzanne Westfall, PhD, and a student, Gavin Knox, Lafayette class of 2017, wrote the original work and brought it to the stage in 2015. When Ms. McMillan attended the show, she “marveled at the intense and cooperative collaboration that was required for such an experience to take root,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘We can do this at Blair.’”

Her most compelling reason for producing the show at Blair was the opportunity to involve so many students and faculty across academic and artistic disciplines. The play itself is evidence that “wonderful things happen when we collaborate,” she continued, stressing the importance of keeping the arts alive and working with others across departments to solve problems. “The production of the play is the antidote to what the plot cautions against—we cannot allow technology to replace human interactions and creativity.”

The Best of Blair’s Resources

Bringing the play to Blair was a monumental task, which could only be accomplished with many helping hands. “Everything about this production is right at the core of project-based learning, on which our students thrive at Blair,” Ms. McMillan explained, noting the production required the steady teamwork of Blair’s fine and performing arts, computer science, English and science departments to come to fruition.

“We are proud to present this show because of its original nature and the collaboration involved to pull it off,” Ms. McMillan said. “We’re putting all of Blair’s resources into it, and we cannot wait to present the fruits of our hard work.”

As the Players prepare to showcase this multi-venue, time-traveling and one-of-a-kind play, Ms. McMillan extended an special note of thanks to the show’s production crew and assistant directors, including Brandy Zhang ’18, Anh Nguyen ’18, Sade Johnson ’17 and Amanda Goldsmith ’18, as well as Siena Tipton ’18, who enthusiastically volunteered to select the music and choreograph each dance number.

“These students are entirely responsible for not only deciding what each performance site would look and sound like, but also for dressing the physical spaces and giving them tone through costumes and props,” Ms. McMillan said. “They constantly asked themselves ‘What is our vision?’ and ‘How can we make it happen?’ This is precisely the work of real-world, professional theatre technicians.”

“Students took on the work of professionals as artists, graphic designers, theatre technicians, stage managers, musicians and more, from start to finish,” she concluded. “It will be so rewarding for them, and for their teachers and peers, to see their hard work and vision synthesize in the final production.”

Last Updated: May 22, 2017