In an intellectual collaboration that stretches the frame of interdisciplinarity, a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni is exploring issues of hubris, science, identity, and ambition.
Frankenstein 2029 is a multimedia event being produced by Ed Kerns, Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art, and directed by Suzanne Westfall, professor of English/theater and interim director of the arts. The development process began during the summer, and already more than 50 faculty members and students from art, biology, computer science, chemical, mechanical, and civil engineering, English, neuroscience, religious studies, and theater are involved.
“Frankenstein 2029 goes well beyond the standard definition of collaboration in which, typically, a couple of people from different disciplines get together and ask questions that the other can answer,” explains Kerns. “For this, disciplines are getting together and asking questions neither can answer alone. This project will demonstrate what makes Lafayette really interesting, that is, it is an overall intellectual unity.”
Based on Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein, the performance will occur simultaneously in six venues. Neural maps will help audience members navigate between venues, which will include Mary Shelley’s libertine apartment, Victor Frankenstein’s lab, and the ship where Victor recounts his tale to Captain Walton after being rescued during his pursuit of the creature. It will feature a score by Tom DiGiovanni ’96 and choreography by Ben Munisteri, choreographer-in-residence.
Because spectators are free to choose what to view and when, they will each experience a different performance. They may choose to follow a particular character or explore the venue itself, which will remain “alive” after the actors have left.
Set to debut in April, the project is part of the START initiative to integrate the arts throughout the curriculum, and is funded in part by an $800,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation.