Self Explored Quite Frankly
From The West Australian.
A new life has been breathed into the classic Gothic tale of young scientist Victor Frankenstein who created a monster with contemporary dance work Frank Enstein.
The work is a collaboration between the two newest contemporary dance companies in Australia, WA’s Co3 and Gold Coast’s The Farm. Frank Enstein was created by Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood and Raewyn Hill, artistic director of CO3, has been on the east coast to support the work and is also associate artist.
Webber and Hill’s professional paths have closely crossed in the past — both held the position of artistic director at Dancenorth for five years.
“Obviously, just because Gavin and I had that history already at Dancenorth it made perfect sense to continue talking to each other,” Hill says.
“I really respect the way that Gavin and Grayson are able to create work, they have this amazing ability to balance light and dark and they have an incredibly physical movement language and a real intelligence to their work.”
The performance explores the world of Frank, a lonely guy who wants to make his imaginary friends real. Physically impaired, Frank uses the power of a storm to bring his monsters to life in an attempt to fulfil his desire to become normal and be accepted by others.
“Frank Enstein is based on themes from the original story around self- acceptance and the courage to accept the way that you are — it’s about bringing life to inanimate matter,” Hill explains.
“It’s about feelings of alienation and being outside a community and the theme comes from working with Daniel Monks who is an actor with disability.”
According to Hill, The Farm desires to create works that are based on universal themes that connect with everyone.
“I really believe that this work matters because I think that we all know the story about the battle with self,” she says. “I think that that’s a universal story — the struggle to fit in, the struggle to find place and the struggle to find worth — and I think it’s a story that speaks to all of us. I guess, for me, that’s really why I was attracted to being part of bringing this work to life.”
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been adapted in many forms since it was first published in 1818 and a lot have been bleak and sinister. Hill says this reworking includes a lot of humour.
“I’m in complete awe with Gavin and Grayson, that they can tackle some pretty hard themes — like I say, this work matters because it talks to all of us about this concept of struggle and the concept of accepting self — and the absolute beauty with them as makers is that they can tackle a very difficult thing like this and find humour in it and present it in a way that is perhaps not as confronting,” she says. “So there’s an accessibility to their work which comes about through balancing the light and the dark — they are absolute masters at it.”
Hill believes it’s a work that connects with the child in all of us, and the balance and broad appeal of the show is also helping a younger generation connect with contemporary dance.
“It speaks to children and it speaks to adults because I guess as we grow up we forget that … we still hold that child in us and we forget that that child needs to be nurtured as well,” she explains.
“It is a work, I think it’s from eight years up and it speaks to everybody.
“We have our schools program … the schools in Perth really responded quite incredibly with and we pretty much sold out our school season by December last year, we only released it in October.
“That is really encouraging and it speaks that there is an audience that wants to see this work.”
Frank Enstein is at Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre from April 5-8.